US to provide vaccines for Pride, other events attended by gay men

The United States will provide 50,000 doses of monkeypox vaccine specifically for large events with high gay and bisexual male attendance in a bid to better reach the community most at risk right now, officials said Thursday. of health.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said communities hosting Pride and other events can order additional shots to offer onsite vaccinations. The CDC is asking jurisdictions ordering more vaccines for these events to provide a plan for how they will educate attendees about the risk factors associated with monkeypox, Walensky said.

Education outreach includes guidance on safer sex, including temporarily limiting sexual partners during the current outbreak, according to the CDC director. Monkeypox is mainly spread through close contact during sex right now.

“I want to stress that although we offer the vaccine during these events to people at high risk, this is a two-dose vaccine series and receiving the vaccine during these events will not provide protection during the event itself,” Walensky said. It’s especially important to avoid behaviors that increase the risk of infection between the first and second doses of the vaccine, she said.

The United States is rolling out the Jynneos vaccine, made by Danish biotech company Bavarian Nordic, to immunize people against monkeypox. The vaccine is given in two doses given 28 days apart. It takes two weeks after the second dose to produce the maximum immune response to protect against the virus.

The United States has delivered more than one million doses of monkeypox vaccine across the country since the outbreak began in May, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. The federal government will make an additional 1.8 million doses available for states and other local jurisdictions to order Monday.

The United States has also provided 22,000 courses of the antiviral treatment tecovirimat so far and will make an additional 50,000 courses available for state and local jurisdictions to order next week, according to HHS.

The United States has reported more than 13,500 cases of monkeypox in 49 states, Washington DC and Puerto Rico, according to the CDC. The overwhelming majority of infections, 98%, are in men, and 93% of patients who provided their gender and recent sexual history were men who have sex with men. The median age of patients is 35 years old.

The epidemic is having a disproportionate impact on black and Hispanic communities. Nearly 35% of monkeypox patients are white, 33% are Hispanic and 28% are black, according to CDC data. Whites make up about 59% of the US population while Blacks and Hispanics make up 13% and 19% respectively. Public health officials are tailoring awareness to upcoming events that will be attended primarily by black and Hispanic people, said Demetre Daskalakis, deputy White House monkeypox response coordinator.

Walensky said the CDC is working closely with local officials ahead of Atlanta Black Pride, which begins Aug. 31, and Southern Decadence in New Orleans, which begins Sept. 1.

“Specifically, we’re asking for plans on how the education will take place, how we can do more outreach in some cases, if we can make the tests available, how we can make the vaccine available,” Walensky said.

The Food and Drug Administration last week authorized administration of the Jynneos vaccine by intradermal injection or between layers of the skin. The vaccine was originally approved for injection subcutaneously, or under the skin.

The decision to allow intradermal injections has greatly expanded the limited supply of vaccines as this method of administration uses one-fifth of the normal dose volume. That means five doses can now be extracted from each vaccine vial, according to Robert Fenton, White House monkeypox response coordinator.

Bavarian Nordic, the manufacturer, has expressed some concerns about intradermal injections. CEO Paul Chaplin told HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf last week that Bavarian Nordic was concerned about the limited safety data on the method. The letter was first reported by The Washington Post.

Califf and Dr. Peter Marks, head of the FDA’s vaccines division, said intradermal injections produced a similar immune response to the subcutaneous method in a US government-sponsored study. The intradermal method resulted in more redness, itching and swelling at the injection site, but the side effects were manageable and people actually felt less pain from the injection, the FDA officials told Bavarian Nordic in a letter.

There are limited data on the actual effectiveness of the vaccine. WHO officials said earlier this week that there were landmark case reports in which people who received the injections after being exposed to the virus are still getting sick as well as people infected after receiving the vaccine. as a preventive measure.

“We knew from the start that this vaccine would not be a silver bullet, that it would not meet all the expectations placed on it, and that we do not have firm efficacy or efficacy data in this. context,” he added. Dr Rosamund Lewis, the WHO’s leading expert on monkeypox, told reporters on Wednesday.

The monkeypox vaccine can be given after exposure to reduce the risk of severe illness or before exposure to reduce the risk of infection.

Walensky said last week that the CDC was initiating studies to monitor the actual effectiveness of injections in preventing disease. She said Thursday that the CDC expects the shots to provide protection with the most effective vaccine two weeks after the second dose.

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