US will implement new monkeypox vaccine strategy to increase availability

As of Monday, there are more than 8,900 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the US.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2022
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U.S. health officials authorized a plan to stretch the nation's limited supply of monkeypox vaccine by giving people just one-fifth the usual dose

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- U.S. health officials on Tuesday authorized a plan to stretch the nation's limited supply of monkeypox vaccine by giving people just one-fifth the usual dose, citing research suggesting that the reduced amount is about as effective.

The so-called dose-sparing approach also calls for administering the Jynneos vaccine with an injection just under the skin rather than into deeper tissue - a practice that may rev up the immune system better. Recipients would still get two shots spaced four weeks apart.

"Theoretically it should work if you take that vile and divide it into five doses," said Dr. Marci Drees, the chief infection prevention officer for ChristianaCare.

While it's not a new idea, it has not yet been tested on the monkeypox vaccine.

SEE ALSO: Health experts: Fall school semester could amplify spread of monkeypox

"The reason that, theoretically, this could work is that we have a lot more immune cells in our skin. So you don't need the higher dose vaccine to generate a similar immune response."

As of Monday, there are more than 8,900 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the US. And the vaccines, while in high demand, are in short supply.

The Camden County Health Department is prioritizing those who are identified as "close contact" and people considered "high risk."

"Right now we are looking at mostly populations of LGBTQ+ community, men who have sex with people, people that have multiple anonymous sex partners in last 14 days," said Caryelle Lasher, the director of the Camden County Department of Health and Human Services.

"There have been a handful of women, a handful of children who had contact with someone with monkeypox, so it can spread person to person," added Lasher.

SEE ALSO: Philadelphia launches monkeypox tracker; vaccine in limited supply

In Philadelphia, as of Monday, there have been 2,409 doses of the vaccine administered. That's a little less than half the doses received.

But even with Tuesday's news, seeing more doses could take time.

"Most health care providers are comfortable giving vaccines in the muscle, but most have never given one in the skin, so there will be some training involved as well," said Drees.

The CDC says it will start emergency training on administering the vaccines this way.

The FDA also granted emergency use authorization for children under 18.

Vaccines are being released in waves.

Here in Philadelphia, the health department says the next wave to order more doses is August 15.

Medical experts said symptoms such as headaches, fever, and painful blisters usually go away, but the CDC warns that those at risk of developing serious illness include kids under 8 and people with compromised immune systems.

For now, the CDC said to prevent infection, avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who may have a rash that looks like monkeypox. Also, don't share things like utensils or towels.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.