Aug 3, 2022 - News

The next vaccine shortage hits Chicago

MPV information card

New monkeypox-prevention messaging from the Chicago Department of Public Health. Image courtesy of the CDPH

As monkeypox virus (MPV) cases rise in Illinois, officials are forced to reserve vaccines for "the highest risk" individuals until more supplies arrive.

Why it matters: Gov. J.B. Pritzker declared a state of emergency Monday to expand MPV resources.

  • Illinois has the third-highest number of cases nationally with 520.

Driving the news: The Chicago Department of Public Health has administered about 5,000 doses of the MPV vaccine. It received an additional 15,000 last week and expects 13,000 more in coming weeks.

  • But Cook County is home to about 120,000 high-risk men who have sex with men (MSM), CDPH commissioner Allison Arwady said yesterday.

Zoom in: This makes demand fierce at places like the Center on Halsted, where "180 available vaccine appointments were claimed online within five minutes," Center CEO Modesto Tico Valle tells Axios.

  • The Center has two scheduled clinics this weekend with a total of 600 vaccine appointments.

By the numbers: With 434 cases, Chicago alone has about 7% of the nation's MPV cases.

  • As of yesterday, 20 infected Chicagoans had been hospitalized.
  • The median age of those infected in the city is 35.

Of note: The vaccine involves a two-shot regimen. The second shot is currently only being offered to the immunocompromised, but Arwady noted that the "biggest increase in protection comes after the first dose."

Zoom out: The same scenario is playing out in other MPV hotspots, including New York City and San Francisco.

What they're saying: Vaccines are currently prioritized for those who have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with MPV, Arwady said.

  • "I don't anticipate a widening of eligibility in the next couple of weeks, but we'll get a sense after that," Arwady said.
  • She added that anybody who has rashes consistent with MPV can and should get tested with their health care provider.

What's next: In anticipation of this weekend's Northalsted Market Days, the city is planning educational flyers, palm cards and video campaigns to educate the public.

  • New CDPH prevention slogans include, "Turn the lights on before you turn the lights off," meaning check for sores before having sex.
  • And, "If you're sick or have a sore, do no more."

What we're watching: MPV funding. Arwady said the department hasn't "received a single dime for MPV prevention" and is not currently allowed to direct COVID-19 relief funds to MPV efforts.


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