The Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday it plans to distribute nearly 300,000 shots of monkeypox vaccine to areas with a high number of cases, with vaccinations recommended for those with known or suspected exposure to the rare virus.
Digitally-colorized electron microscopic (EM) image depicting a monkeypox virion (virus particle), … [+] obtained from a clinical sample associated with a 2003 prairie dog outbreak, published June 6, 2022. (Photo via Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
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Some 56,000 vaccine doses will be made available immediately, while 240,000 will be released in coming weeks, according to HHS.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also recommending vaccines for anybody with a suspected exposure to monkeypox, whereas vaccination was previously only recommended for people whose exposure to the virus was confirmed, the agency said.
As of Tuesday, the CDC had confirmed 306 monkeypox cases across 27 states and the District of Columbia.
The virus has been primarily found among men who have sex with men, but health officials have stressed the virus—which generally doesn’t spread from person to person easily—is not sexually transmitted and can be passed through anyone with intimate contact.
“While monkeypox poses minimal risk to most Americans, we are doing everything we can to offer vaccines to those at high-risk of contracting the virus,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said.
What To Watch For
HHS said it expects to make more than 750,000 doses of Jynneos—a vaccine authorized against smallpox and monkeypox—available this summer, with around 1.6 million doses available by the end of the year. Jurisdictions will also be allowed to order doses of ACAM shots, which is an older vaccine used to treat smallpox, and is known to bring a risk of severe side effects. The Jynneos vaccine is a newer shot developed by Danish company Bavarian Nordic.
Monkeypox has been spreading across Western nations over the past few weeks, with more than 4,700 cases now confirmed in at least 49 countries, according to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. An infection commonly causes a skin rash and can also lead to fever and swollen lymph nodes, but is typically not deadly. A World Health Organization panel determined last weekend that the monkeypox outbreak is not yet a global health emergency, but its spread is cause for concern and continued observation.