Shortage of monkeypox vaccination causes for new method of distribution

Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 7:02 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 16, 2022 at 6:23 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The demand for the monkeypox vaccine far outweighs the distribution of it. Less than 10,000 shots are available in the Mid-South but federal health officials are making new administration suggestions to stretch the use of a vial of the vaccine.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the administration of the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine to be done intradermally. This means the shot is given in between layers of the skin instead of into the skin.

Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Steve Threlkeld at Baptist says this is a safe way to go about the administration of the vaccine.

He says there’s been one trial in 2015 testing the vaccine intradermally and patients showed to have good protection because of it.

With giving the shot intradermally, you’re given a smaller dose of the vaccine allowing more doses to be given in one vial Threlkeld said.

Local health departments are taking the advice. The Mississippi Department of Health says shots will be given intradermally.

Arkansas Department of Health says they are ordering supplies and preparing to make the switch to give the shots intradermally.

“We don’t have available to us the ideal scenario which is the full dose of the approved vaccine we need. We just don’t have that. We have to go with something slightly less than perfect. So it does make sense to take a lower dose of a safe vaccine given in a way that’s easy to give and shown to be safe,” said Threlkeld.

According to federal data, more than 600,000 doses of the monkeypox vaccine have been distributed across the country but that falls short of demand.

In Mississippi, there have been more than 1,500 doses allocated, in Arkansas the number is more than 1,700 and there have been more than 5,000 doses of the monkeypox vaccine sent to Tennessee. Those states have seen 11, 15 and 67 cases of monkeypox respectively.

Shelby County Health Department issued this statement on their protocols:

“The Shelby County Health Department follows the Tennessee Department of Health’s (TDH) protocols regarding administration of the monkeypox vaccine. As TDH provides additional guidance, we will continue to adjust accordingly.”

TDH is in the process of implementing the CDC’s recently announced guidance to increase the number of JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine doses available.

Health departments are only giving the shots to at-risk populations, mainly those who have a confirmed or probable case of the virus. The vaccine can be given after someone is exposed to the virus. Threlkeld says there needs to be a larger pool of eligible vaccine recipients.

“If we’re limiting it to that we’re completely allowing this thing to completely kind of explode and reach larger numbers in the population because you really have to attack it by preventing the infection altogether,” Threlkeld said.

Many state and federal priorities for vaccine eligibility also include those whose sexual partner has been diagnosed with monkeypox over the last 14 days and members of the gay, bisexual and transgender communities with certain sexual partners including those how have had multiple or anonymous partners or those who have attended an event or venue where monkeypox may have been transmitted.

You can find vaccine information in Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi on the states’ health departments’ websites.

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