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The Biden administration from the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will beef up its response to the monkeypox virus by offering more tests and monkeypox vaccines to people at risk, including men who have sex with men and their partners.
The HHS plans to release over a million monkeypox vaccine doses stockpile by the end of the fall and to confirm those with cases such as bisexuals with multiple sex partners and gays in areas monkeypox has been spotted.
Presently, ten priority states are considered the first tier in mandating monkeypox vaccines.
The gradual rollout of the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccines distributed nationwide by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is nearly 300,000 doses, including the immediate release of 56,000 doses. This summer, another 750,000 quantities will be available, and up to 500,000 JYNNEOS doses later in the year. Approximately 1.6 million of the two-dose monkeypox vaccines through the stockpile are available this year.
Since monkeypox is closely related to the smallpox virus, vaccines became available quickly. Many countries preserved a stockpile of smallpox vaccines because there’s constantly the possibility that the virus could be used as a bioweapon agent.
Smallpox vaccines do not contain the virus but a related virus called vaccinia. The U.S. has a more significant ACAM2000 smallpox vaccine stockpile but is unsuitable for distribution because it has more significant side effects than JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccines.
JYNNEOS was the first vaccine approved for smallpox and monkeypox in the U.S., with 85% efficacy against monkeypox. The JYNNEOS vaccine is administered to people soon after a suspected exposure to reduce the risk of illness.
Like the U.K., the U.S. will be rationing doses depending on people’s risk of exposure. The top priority for monkeypox vaccines will be for people in close or prolonged exposure to suspected or confirmed cases, those whose sexual partners were diagnosed with monkeypox, and men who have sex with men with multiple partners.
Monkeypox was first discovered in the 1950s and primarily infected rodents but occasionally spread from animals to humans. This year there are 4,000 suspected cases globally and 300 in the U.S.
Monkeypox has been circulating in humans for several years at low levels, but the current spread was fueled by close contact during sex. The WHO declared a health emergency last weekend to contain the virus before it becomes endemic in more parts of the world.
Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Sheena Robertson
GIZMODO: The U.S. Is Rolling Out Monkeypox Vaccines to the Public; by Ed Cara
CIDRAP: US rolls out monkeypox vaccine plan as WHO warns of risk to kids
CNN Health: US to offer monkeypox vaccines in states with high case rates; by Brenda Goodman