Aug 5, 2022 - News

Monkeypox vaccine shortage hits Minnesota

Illustration of a small syringe casting a large shadow.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Minnesota has just 3,000 of the 90,000 monkeypox vaccine doses it needs to cover those most at-risk for the fast-spreading illness, state health officials tell Axios.

Driving the news: On Thursday, the Biden administration declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency — a move that gives officials more flexibility to tackle the spread of the virus.

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

State of play: With just 44 cases reported, Minnesota has not been as hard hit as hot spots such as California and New York, which has documented more than 1,400 cases so far.

  • Nationally, there are more than 7,000 known monkeypox cases and no deaths, per the CDC.

What's happening: States' access to vaccines is limited because the federal government is only able to purchase doses from one company in Denmark. States are able to request how many doses they want from the amount allocated to them.

  • Given the current supply, the state has been prioritizing getting vaccine to men who have sex with men and who have other risk factors, such as multiple partners or living with HIV, Minnesota Department of Health spokesperson Doug Schultz said.

Yes, but: The limited rollout has frustrated some residents who say access and information is lacking.

  • Jack Fischer, a 22-year-old living in St. Paul, said he felt disheartened and deflated when he was turned away for vaccination because he did not meet the criteria for being considered high-risk.
  • "Everyone's telling you to get vaccinated. Everyone's telling you to do your part, but you really can't do your part, there's no access or resources," Fischer, who is gay, said. "Public health is failing us again."

What's next: Minnesota has been allocated an additional 7,600 doses that will be distributed in three shipments over the next 4 to 6 weeks, Schultz said.

  • More vaccine is expected in late 2022 and early 2023, he added.

Of note: Gov. Tim Walz's office said that the governor does not have plans to call a peacetime emergency at this time.

Be smart: The CDC has more information on symptoms and prevention.


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