Aug 19, 2022 - News

Disappointment with Polk County monkeypox vaccine distribution prompts response

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

People ineligible for monkeypox vaccinations have increasingly expressed concern in recent weeks that they are being discriminated against, Polk County Department of Health spokesperson Nola Aigner Davis told Axios Thursday.

Why it matters: The county's distribution plan is part of a public health strategy to use the limited supply of vaccines to target those who are most vulnerable to get it first and stop the disease.

  • Iowa health officials have received thousands of doses of the vaccine in recent weeks but supplies remain short with the CDC recommending it be considered for people at high risk for infection.

Catch up fast: There have been more than 13,500 monkeypox cases identified in 49 states, according to a White House briefing Thursday. That's an increase of more than 10,000 since May 17.

  • More than 90% of cases are among men who have had sex with men.

Zoom in: There have been at least 15 cases in Iowa, with the majority in the central part of the state, according to the state's health department.

Zoom in further: The Polk County Health Department began offering vaccines last week to gay or bisexual men and transgender adults. Appointments for all 400 doses were booked.

The latest: Polk's health department issued a statement on social media Thursday in response to the feedback, explaining its distribution policy.

  • Vaccine eligibility will shift based on transmission of the virus and severity of illness, it noted.

Of note: Some health departments are already expanding eligibility.

  • People who have recently had multiple sex partners became eligible last week in Washington, D.C.

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