The United States is reserving an additional 50,000 doses of monkeypox vaccine for venues at upcoming gay pride events, health officials said Thursday.
The number of doses sent to each 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.
“While we offer the vaccine at these events to those at high risk, this is a two-dose vaccine series, and receiving the vaccine at the event will not provide protection at the event. itself,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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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 reported cases 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.
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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 reported recent sexual contact with others. 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 line up to receive the monkeypox vaccine at the Balboa Sports Center in the Encino neighborhood of Los Angeles, California on July 27, 2022. (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)
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. Authorities this week announced the release of 442,000 of the smaller doses 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.
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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 and health centers, including in Atlanta and Los Angeles, have begun administering monkeypox vaccines this way, U.S. officials said. But some local officials have said they may need a week or more to make the change.
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.