DC changes its monkeypox vaccination policy to focus on the first dose


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DC public health officials are changing the city’s monkeypox vaccination strategy, using its limited vaccine stock to deliver the first doses to the most-at-risk population instead of reserving shots for the second dose of the two-injection regimen.

The strategy, announced Monday, means the district will rely on the federal government to provide enough vaccine for second doses, according to a statement from the DC Department of Health.

DC officials administered 5,629 doses of Jynneos, the only vaccine specifically approved to prevent monkeypox, beginning Sunday, Patrick Ashley, senior deputy director of the DC Department of Health, said in an interview Monday. Both doses of the regimen should be administered at least 28 days apart.

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“Rather than withholding doses, we are able to get more people vaccinated and contain this faster,” he said.

Other jurisdictions have already moved to prioritize early doses, including New York and San Francisco, as well as the UK and Canada, as authorities race to protect at-risk communities.

Ashish Jha, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, was asked about the strategy at a press conference on Friday. Jha said more doses were going to be given out, so “we encourage people to go ahead and use all of their doses as their first doses.”

In another Monday briefing, Jha said the Food and Drug Administration was working quickly to “finalize approval of nearly 800,000 additional doses, and we are preparing to ship these doses to jurisdictions once the FDA finally approves them.” “. He added that he hoped the additional doses would be available in the “next few days”.

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As of Monday, 172 cases of monkeypox were reported in the district, which has more cases per capita than any state. The population hardest hit by monkeypox is men in their early 30s who have sex with men, but DC Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt stressed that the virus can infect no anyone.

Positive cases in DC include a child under the age of one who was diagnosed in the district but is a UK resident traveling with family. The family has traveled extensively inside and outside the United States, and an investigation into how the child contracted monkey pox is ongoing, Ashley said. The child has never been hospitalized and will remain in the District until the end of his isolation.

On Saturday, DC Health invited about 5,000 additional at-risk people to make free vaccination appointments and will continue to send out invitations while supplies are available. The district received about 13,938 doses, Ashley said.

Federal officials did not say how many doses the district and states will receive in the next delivery, but Ashley said if the district gets enough vaccine, some people will get their second dose on time.

“That’s part of the challenge,” he said. “We want as many vaccines as possible, and we want to get it out as quickly as possible. Timing is very critical. The sooner we can get it going, the sooner we can contain this.

Ashley said DC public health officials have considered research that shows a single dose of Jynneos provides as much protection as single-dose ACAM2000, another vaccine that cannot be used in people whose the immune system is weakened, for six months or more.

Health officials will advise anyone who has already received a first dose that their appointment for the second dose has been temporarily postponed and will reschedule appointments later – with exceptions for the immunocompromised, whose second injections will not be delayed.

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Monkeypox has also been found elsewhere in the region. Virginia officials are reporting 72 cases on Monday, and a map from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows Maryland has 71 cases. Public health officials point out, however, that there are more people infected than the data shows, because not everyone with symptoms gets tested.

On Saturday, the World Health Organization declared the international outbreak of monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern, which could make more funding available to fight the virus. Seventy-four countries reported nearly 1,700 cases of monkeypox on Friday.

Ashley continued to encourage people to be vigilant by monitoring themselves and their sexual partners for any unusual skin conditions and to contact their providers if they find anything unusual.

DC residents can pre-register for free vaccination appointments at PreventMonkeypox.dc.gov.

Lena H. Sun contributed to this report.

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