The U.S. is set to release vaccines from the Strategic National Stockpile to protect high-risk contacts of people who have contracted monkeypox.
The U.S. will release some of its reserve supply of the two-dose vaccine Jynneos, which is licensed to prevent smallpox and can specifically target monkeypox.
“We have over 1,000 doses of that available, and we expect that level to ramp up very quickly in the coming weeks as the company provides more doses to us,” Dr. Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Monday.
Dr. McQuiston said the vaccine will be given to those who would benefit the most.
“Those are people who’ve had contact with known monkeypox patients, health care workers, very close personal contact, and those in particular who might be at high risk for severe disease,” she said.
She said the U.S. has 100 million doses of an older-generation vaccine for smallpox, ACAM2000, but it could produce side effects, so there would need to be a deeper discussion about whether to use it for the monkeypox situation.
The U.S. confirmed a case of monkeypox in Massachusetts, but presumptive cases are popping up in different corners of the country, including two in Utah, two in Florida, one in New York City and one in Washington state.
The cases are part of unusual clusters of the disease, marked by fevers and a telltale rash, that are popping up in countries where the virus isn’t endemic. Cases are typically found in West and Central Africa and result in humans from contact with rodents.
The virus can spread from human to human through close personal contact. An adviser to the World Health Organization on Monday suggested sexual contact at a pair of raves in Spain and Belgium might have spurred the latest outbreaks, which have predominantly impacted gay men.
“It’s very possible there was somebody who got infected, developed lesions on the genitals, hands or somewhere else, and then spread it to others when there was sexual or close physical contact,” Dr. David Heymann, an adviser to the WHO, told The Associated Press. “And then there were these international events that seeded the outbreak around the world, into the U.S. and other European countries.”