NYC Receives 6,000 More Doses of Monkeypox Vaccine, Larger Shipment Weeks Away

The city’s health ministry said on Wednesday it was ready to offer thousands of new monkeypox vaccines, just hours after it received a new shipment of the coveted vaccine from the government.

The New Yorkers also seemed poised to snag them as they quickly snagged appointments that were released just minutes early on Wednesday due to an online disruption.

“Due to an unfortunate glitch, monkeypox vaccine dates were made available early. Rest assured there will be more dates available this afternoon and we will update here and on our website as they become available.” DOHMH tweeted. “We will honor all appointments made earlier today.”

The situation repeated itself on Wednesday night when the agency officially released a limited number of new slots, all of which were quickly snapped up.

The second monkeypox vaccine shipment – which arrived on Tuesday and brought in nearly 6,000 new doses – comes as officials at the DOHMH battled a surge in new cases during the recent LGBT pride celebrations that ended in late June.

Monkeypox vaccines have been hard to find across the country.
The NYC DOH received an additional 6,000 doses of the monkeypox vaccine.
The Washington Post via Getty Images

In addition, officials said they were reluctant to give a second dose to the roughly 1,000 New Yorkers who had already received their first shot, to maximize the number of people who can receive the protection offered by a partial shot.

The attempt to extend the supply comes as officials admitted they don’t expect a third major shipment from the FBI until mid to late July.

“One of the things we know about vaccines is that they don’t benefit anybody on the shelf,” said Dr. Jay Varma, who led City Hall’s COVID response under former Mayor Bill de Blasio. “It’s all an argument to get as many first doses into people as possible.”

As of Tuesday, 111 New Yorkers have tested positive for the virus, a dramatic increase from the 62 cases reported the previous week and the 25 identified the week before, city statistics show.

Monkeypox is a disease transmitted primarily through skin contact that can cause fever and flu-like symptoms and is often characterized by painful lesions or rashes.

“Anyone can get and spread monkeypox,” the health department said in its recent public guidance.

It added: “Current cases are spreading primarily on the social networks of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, leaving this community at higher risk right now.”

Public health officials have gone to great lengths to stress that the virus can be transmitted between heterosexuals just as easily as it is among gay men, among whom many of the early outbreaks were concentrated.

Monkeypox cases tend to occur at large events.
Monkeypox cases spike after Pride Month parties.
Toronto Star via Getty Images

Many of these early cases have been traced to parties, clubs, or other activities in Europe aimed at gay men — especially younger men — where kissing and other intimate contacts are common and often encouraged.

Public health officials in New York and across the country have also warned that massive restrictions on testing for the virus are making it difficult to understand just how far it has actually spread.

Currently, the City Health Department’s tiny but sophisticated public health lab can only perform about 20 tests a day, a limitation that won’t be lifted until larger private labs ramp up.

Additionally, the only approved test currently requires doctors to swab the rash or lesions to collect a sample, meaning only those with advanced infections can be screened.

The circumstances draw an uncanny parallel to the missteps of the early days of the HIV/AIDS crisis, when testing was limited and widespread perception mislabeled the disease as a “gay plague,” even though all New Yorkers were susceptible.

And the struggles with monkeypox testing and the introduction of vaccines also reflect the struggles with COVID that has killed more than a million Americans — including around 35,000 people in New York City alone.

But there are key differences between monkeypox and these deadly plagues, both in terms of knowledge and severity.

First, scientists have been studying monkeypox for decades. Second, a vaccine is available that, if given in a timely manner, can prevent infection and limit symptoms in those who already have the disease.

The FBI has announced it will ramp up production of the JYNNEOS shots, though public health activists say the plan isn’t ambitious enough. NYC Receives 6,000 More Doses of Monkeypox Vaccine, Larger Shipment Weeks Away


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