September 28, 2022

US Offers Extra Doses of Monkeypox Vaccine for Pride Events | Health

By MIKE STOBBE – AP Medical Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — The United States is reserving an additional 50,000 doses of monkeypox vaccine for venues where upcoming gay pride events will take place, health officials said Thursday.

The number of doses sent to each venue will be based on factors such as the size of the event, the number of health workers available to administer injections and the number of attendees deemed to be most at risk of catching the virus. .

“More gunshots are how we get the epidemic under control,” Bob Fenton, the White House monkeypox response coordinator, told reporters Thursday. He said the effort is an attempt to “meet people where they are.”

At least a dozen Pride American events are planned over the next two months, including large rallies in Atlanta and New Orleans in early September. US officials said they will send up to 2,000 more doses to North Carolina, where the Charlotte Pride Festival & Parade will be held this weekend.

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Southern Decadence, one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ events, is expected to draw 200,000 or more people to New Orleans over Labor Day weekend. The Bourbon Street Extravaganza, a free concert held in the middle of the event, has been canceled due to monkeypox concerns, organizers announced this week.

Frank Perez, a former parade grand marshal who is the centerpiece of Southern Decadence, said a number of gay bars in New Orleans have held vaccination events before. He said officials have done an adequate job with the vaccination campaign so far, although “more is better”.

Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cautioned: “Although we offer the vaccine during these events to people at high risk, it is a two-dose series of vaccines, and receiving the vaccine at the event will not provide protection at the event itself.”

Health officials are also calling for other measures to prevent the spread of the virus, including temporarily limiting sexual partners.

Monkeypox is endemic in parts of Africa, where people have been infected by the bites of rodents or small animals, but it was not considered a disease that spread easily among humans until May, when infections have appeared in Europe and the United States.

There have been over 39,000 cases reported in countries that have never seen monkeypox. The vast majority have occurred in men who have sex with men, but health officials stress that anyone can get monkeypox.

The United States has the most infections of any country – more than 13,500. About 98% of cases in the United States are men and about 93% were men who said they had recently had sexual contact with d other men.

Officials say the virus was spread primarily through skin-to-skin contact, but they warn it could also be spread in other ways, including touching laundry used by someone with monkeypox.

People with monkeypox may experience fever, body aches, chills, and fatigue. Many in the outbreak developed extremely painful pimple-like bumps. No one in the United States has died, but deaths have been reported in other countries.

The United States has a limited supply of what is considered the main weapon against the virus – a vaccine called Jynneos. Doses are currently given to people shortly after they believe they have been exposed. Scientists are still trying to establish how well the shots work.

Last week the government decided to stretch the supply by giving people a fifth of the usual dose, injected just under the skin, instead of a full vial injected into deeper tissues.

Many health workers may have little experience giving injections using the just under the skin method, which requires different needles and syringes. Some health departments have started doing this, but some local officials have said they may need a week or more to make the switch.

Authorities this week announced the release of 442,000 of the smaller doses to be ordered by state, local and territorial health departments. On Thursday they announced more were arriving next week – 1.8 million doses, or 360,000 vials.

Officials also announced a new agreement with a Michigan manufacturer to help ramp up production of 5.5 million vaccine vials recently ordered by the US government.

As part of the agreement, Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing will help package raw vaccine ingredients currently stored at an overseas facility owned by Bavarian Nordic, which manufactures the Jynneos vaccine. Officials said the extra capacity should help speed up orders for vaccines in the United States, most of which are not expected to be delivered until next year. The Biden administration has faced weeks of criticism for not ordering more vaccines sooner.

Also on Thursday, health officials said next week they would increase the supply of TPOXX, a drug for treating monkeypox infections, by 50,000 treatments.

AP reporters Rebecca Santana in New Orleans and Matthew Perrone in Washington contributed to this report.

The Associated Press Health and Science Department is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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