Aug 2, 2022 - News

Philadelphia's monkeypox response restricted by vaccine supply

A syringe shaped like an arrow pointing upward.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Philadelphia, like many other local governments, again finds itself under pressure to ramp up its response to a growing virus outbreak, with a short supply of vaccines.

Driving the news: The city unveiled a new data-tracking tool on the Health Department's website Monday to provide transparency around the number of monkeypox cases and vaccine doses available in the city.

  • The move comes days after local LGBTQ advocates and state representatives raised the alarm on limited vaccine supply at a press conference, calling on federal, state and city leaders to do more.

State of play: Philadelphia health officials are distributing doses to individuals exposed and at high risk of exposure at five health clinics, including the Mazzoni Center, PhiladelphiaFIGHT and Presbyterian Hospital.

The big picture: Cases have been doubling across the U.S. about once a week, Axios' Adriel Bettelheim reports, and the push to secure more vaccines may not be enough to prevent shortages for at-risk Americans.

By the numbers: At least 161 monkeypox cases have been reported in Pennsylvania, according to CDC data as of Monday. In Philadelphia, the city says 82 people have tested positive.

  • Philadelphia has requested from the federal government the full amount of vaccine doses it was allocated, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
  • The city has received more than 2,600 doses so far. It's expecting roughly 6,000 more in the coming months, but the Health Department has acknowledged that's not enough, per the Inquirer.

Between the lines: Like during the early days of COVID-19, public health officials are also facing challenges with how to educate people about the virus, and there appear to be significant holes in the public's understanding.

  • A new survey from the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center found that about 20% of Americans are afraid they'll soon contract monkeypox, while half are unsure whether it's less contagious than COVID (it is).
  • Two-thirds said they either don't think there's a monkeypox vaccine or are unsure, according to the survey.

What to watch: The Biden administration has been considering whether to declare a public health emergency to make more resources available to respond to the outbreak.

  • Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra last week ruled out immediate need for such action, but said the federal agency is monitoring the country's response.

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