Aug 4, 2022 - News

Thousands in Richmond request monkeypox vaccine

Illustration of a small syringe casting a large shadow.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Demand for monkeypox vaccines continues to outweigh supply, according to local health officials.

Why it matters: Across the nation, health officials worry that the outbreak could become the country's second major public health disaster in as many years if we don't work faster to contain it, write Axios' Chelsea Cirruzzo and Cuneyt Dil.

What they're saying: "It is something that we could contain, but it's gonna require a great deal of effort. I believe we're behind," says Georges Benjamin, who leads the American Public Health Association.

Context: Urban areas with large LGBTQ+ populations have felt the brunt of the infections so far.

  • There are more than 6,000 known monkeypox cases in the U.S. and no deaths, per the CDC.

Zoom in: Virginia has seen 105 cases and received just over 7,000 doses of the vaccine, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

  • So far, 417 of those doses have made it to the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts, spokesperson Catherine Long tells Axios.
  • Meanwhile, the department has received 2,500 responses to its vaccine interest form.

What's happening: States' access to vaccines is limited because the federal government is only able to purchase doses from one company in Denmark.

  • Officials recently announced another purchase of 2.5 million doses to add to the national stockpile and said they would immediately release 131,000 doses.

State of play: Like other health departments nationwide, health officials here are now prioritizing high-risk populations, primarily gay and bisexual men.

  • "Demand continues to outweigh supply in our area, and we're using an equitable prioritization to get vaccines first to folks who have highest risk based on their behaviors and whether or not they're immunocompromised," Long says.
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