More than 780,000 doses of the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine will be available in the United States beginning tomorrow, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today in a press call.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra urged local and state public health departments to use these doses for preventive vaccination efforts to stay ahead of the virus and end the outbreak, noting that the HHS and CDC do not control how vaccines are distributed at state and local levels. “We don’t have the authority to tell them what to do,” he said during the call. “We need them to work with us.”
As of today, there were 4907 reported cases of monkeypox in the United States and officials expect cases will continue to rise in the coming weeks.
HHS already has distributed more 338,000 doses to states and jurisdictions, but the vaccine remains in high demand. The vaccine is manufactured by the small Danish company Bavarian Nordic. These additional 786,000 doses were previously stored at a plant in Denmark, awaiting the completion of an inspection and authorization of the vaccine plant by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The agency announced Wednesday that both the vaccine doses and the manufacturing plant met standards.
With the announcement of these additional doses, the vaccine allocation plan is also being updated to take into account two important factors: the number of people at high risk in a jurisdiction and the number of new cases reported since the last vaccine allocation.
“This update gives greater weight to prioritizing vaccines to areas with the greatest number of people at risk, which includes men who have sex with men who have HIV or who are eligible for HIV PrEP, while still considering where we are seeing cases increase,” said Capt. Jennifer McQuiston, DVM, deputy director of the Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
McQuiston also provided additional demographic information on the US outbreak. The median age of people with confirmed cases is 35 years old, with a range from 17-76. (This does not include the two cases in children reported last week.) Of the cases where sex at birth was provided, 99% were individuals assigned male sex at birth. In cases with reported ethnicity and race, 37% were non-Hispanic white people, 31% were Hispanic/Latino, 27% were Black or African American, and 4% were of Asian descent. The most common symptoms were rash — present in 99% of cases — malaise, fever, and swollen lymph nodes.
HHS and CDC did not have data on how many people have received at least one dose of the monkeypox vaccine. When asked how many people need to be fully vaccinated against monkeypox to contain the outbreak, Becerra did not provide an estimate but implied that preventive vaccination could help limit the number of vaccines needed and expressed optimism about quelling the outbreak in the United States. “We believe that we have done everything we can at the federal level to work with our state and local partners and communities affected to make sure we can stay ahead of this and end this outbreak,” he said, “but everybody’s got to do their part.”