Jul 30, 2022 - Health

U.S. may not have enough monkeypox vaccines if outbreak worsens

A photograph shows doses of Imvanex vaccine used to protect against Monkeypox virus.
Doses of Imvanex vaccine used to protect against Monkeypox virus. Photo: Alain Jocard/AFP via Getty Images

Monkeypox vaccines may not be readily available for at-risk Americans if cases continue to climb.

Why it matters: U.S. officials celebrated the arrival of about 800,000 monkeypox vaccines earlier this week, but those aren't sufficient to cover those at greatest risk of contracting the virus, and more doses won't arrive until October, the Washington Post reports.

State of play: Even with the new doses, the U.S. only has enough on hand to vaccinate a third of the roughly 1.6 million gay and bisexual men who are considered at high-risk, the Post reports.

  • J. Stephen Morrison, director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said on a recent podcast that the U.S. likely needs 3.2 million doses to cover the at-risk population. But there won't be even 2 million doses by the end of 2022, he added.
  • There is also confusion about who needs a vaccine and whether a vaccine exists at all.

What they're saying: "The United States must continue to ramp up vaccine supply and must move swiftly to implement a comprehensive distribution approach to significantly increase equitable access to vaccines," said Daniel McQuillen, president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, per Axios.

The big picture: The Biden administration is hoping to stay ahead of the outbreak by shipping additional vaccine doses to the states, Axios' Arielle Dreher reports.

  • If cases balloon and demand increases, President Biden may need to request more funds from Congress or declare a public health emergency, Dreher writes.
  • Critics have already panned federal officials for their slow response to the outbreak on the heels of the coronavirus pandemic, the Associated Press reports.

Yes, but: The circumstances are different. The U.S. had more than 1 million doses in stockpile for monkeypox; there was no coronavirus vaccine available at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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