Monkeypox vaccine supply woes easing, federal public health officials say

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Concerns over monkeypox vaccine supplies appear to be softening after federal public health agencies initially scrambled to acquire enough doses of the shot.

The Biden administration has been working to boost its supply of vaccines in recent weeks, and so far has made over 1 million vials available to jurisdictions, “which is nearly enough to reach the entire population that’s most at risk,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said during a call with reporters Tuesday.

The HHS also announced on Monday that it will provide about $11 million to support the first U.S.-based production effort for manufacturing the Jynneos vaccine at a facility in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The FDA authorized administering the Jynneos shot intradermally — a method that requires only one-fifth of the usual dose but is just as effective, according to the agency.

However, the vaccine’s developer, Bavarian Nordic, has raised concerns about the method, citing a lack of data and evidence related to its efficacy.

About 75% of jurisdictions that have received the vaccine are administering it intradermally now, Bob Fenton, the White House’s monkeypox response coordinator, said on Tuesday’s call.

The Biden administration declared a federal public health emergency Aug. 4 for monkeypox amid virus outbreaks spreading through pockets of the country.

As part of its current vaccine distribution plan, the agency is now targeting local health departments to help them stand up vaccine clinics at Labor Day events expected to draw large crowds from at-risk groups.

Some events planning to hold vaccine clinics include Southern Decadence Festival in New Orleans, Black Pride Festival in Atlanta and two festivals in Oakland, California, officials said Tuesday.

So far, the virus has mostly been spreading among men who have sex with men.

HHS is also launching an equity intervention pilot program to provide shots to health departments to launch small-scale, community-based vaccine efforts in an effort to reach at-risk populations currently facing barriers to getting vaccinated, officials said Tuesday.