More than 100,000 monkeypox vaccines are being shipped to states in the next few days, with several million more to come in the coming months, U.S. health officials said Friday.
They also admit that the availability of the vaccine has not been maintained need seen in New York, California and other places.
Officials predict that cases will continue to rise for at least a few more weeks as the government tries to keep up with a dramatic international outbreak that has seen hundreds of new cases. given every day.
Some public health experts are beginning to wonder if the outbreak is spreading enough that monkeypox will become a source of sexually transmitted disease.
Dr. “Our whole job right now is to prevent that from happening,” said Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Monkey pox is widespread in parts of Africa, where people are infected by the bite of rats or small animals. It usually does not spread easily between people.
But this year, more than 12,000 cases of the disease have been reported in countries that have not seen the disease in history. The disease has emerged in men who have sex with men in Europe, though health officials they emphasized that anyone can get infected.
As of Friday, more than 1,800 cases of the disease have been reported in the United States, with hundreds of cases added every day. Almost all were men and most had same-sex encounters, according to the CDC.
Experts believe the case numbers are underestimated.
Walensky said she expects cases to peak at least through August, in part because it can take three weeks from the time someone is infected until they develop symptoms and are diagnosed.
The virus spreads through the skin-on-skin contactbut it can also be spread by touching linen used by someone with monkeypox.
People with monkeypox may experience fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. Many people in the outbreak developed zit-like lesions on many parts of the body.
No one died, and the disease was mild in many men. But for others, the wounds can be “very painful” and there is a risk of scarring, said Dr. Mary Foote, medical director of the New York City Department of Health’s Office of Emergency Preparedness.
When the outbreak was first discovered in May, US officials had only about 2,000 doses of the new two-part monkeypox vaccine.
Officials have recommended vaccinating people who know or suspect they have been infected with monkeypox in the past two weeks, and vaccination clinics in some cities have been overwhelmed. The government has distributed 156,000 doses nationwide as of Thursday, including 100,000 this week. And an additional 131,000 doses are expected to begin being delivered by Monday, said Dawn O’Connell of the US Department of Health and Human Services.
There is also about 800,000 doses in Denmark who will be coming to America soon. And this month the government announced an additional 5 million doses, although most of those are not expected to arrive until next year.
The vaccine, Jynneos, has never been widely used to respond to anyone tear like this, and the government will monitor how it works, said Walensky.
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