The White House is scaling up their response to the monkeypox outbreak, expanding access to vaccines to more at-risk individuals, officials said in a press call. More than 56,000 doses of the monkeypox vaccine JYNNEOS will be made available immediately, and more than 240,000 doses will be allocated in the coming weeks.
“The administration’s current strategy is focused on containing the outbreak by providing vaccines to those most in need to prevent further spread of monkeypox in the communities most impacted,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, on a June 28 press call. “As additional supply becomes available, we will further expand our efforts making vaccines available to a wider population.”
As of June 28, there are 4700 detected cases of monkeypox globally in 49 countries. Since the first US case of monkeypox was identified on May 17, there have been 306 confirmed cases across 28 jurisdictions.
Prior to this announcement, vaccination against monkeypox was recommended only for people with known exposures to the virus. Now, the vaccine is available to people who are likely to be exposed to the virus, including:
People who have had close physical contact with someone diagnosed with monkeypox
People with a sexual partner diagnosed with monkeypox
Men who have sex with men who have had multiple sex partners in a venue where monkeypox was identified
The JYNNEOS vaccine is administered in two doses, delivered 28 days apart. People will have maximum immunity 2 weeks after the second dose. People should be vaccinated within 2 weeks of a possible monkeypox exposure, Walensky said, adding, “The sooner you can get vaccinated after exposure, the better.”
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will immediately allocate the 56,000 JYNNEOS doses across the country, prioritizing jurisdictions to areas of high transmission. A second vaccine, ACAM2000, can also be requested, but it has a greater risk for serious side effects and is not appropriate for immunocompromised individuals or people with heart disease. In the coming weeks, 240,000 JYNNEOS doses will be made available for second doses as well as first doses “as the vaccine strategy broadens,” said David Boucher, Director, Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response, HHS. There are currently 800,000 JYNNEOS doses that have been manufactured and approved for release, he said, and awaiting inspection by the US Food and Drug Administration, which should be completed in the beginning of July.
At the same time, the administration is also focusing on increasing access to testing. Monkeypox testing is now available in 78 state public health labs in 48 states that can collectively conduct 10,000 tests per week. In addition, the administration announced on June 23 that HHS began shipping monkeypox tests to five commercial lab companies to expand testing capacity as well as make testing more accessible.
“We continue to work very closely with the community and with public health partners and clinicians to increase awareness of the monkey pox outbreak and to facilitate adequate capacity and equitable access to testing,” Walensky said. “I strongly encourage all health care providers to have a high clinical suspicion for monkeypox among their patients. Patients presenting with a suspicious rash should be tested.”