Ahead of large-scale LGBT events in the coming weeks and months, local and state officials will be able to request and receive additional monkeypox vaccines, according to the White House.
White House Monkeypox Response Coordinator Bob Fenton said the additional doses are on top of existing vaccine allocations.
“HHS is launching a pilot program that will provide up to 50,000 doses from the national stockpile to be made available for Pride and other events that will have high attendance of gay and bisexual men,” Fenton said in a statement.
While some LGBT pride activities have been canceled, health officials and government departments plan to utilize the overall events to offer monkeypox testing, vaccines, and community engagement, according to Fenton.
“We’re already starting to work with jurisdictions on a number of events taking place in the coming days and weeks,” he said. “This is important; it’s innovative—the way that we will bolster local efforts to meet people where they are and mitigate the spread of monkeypox.”
In addition to vaccines, the Biden administration plans to distribute 50,000 TPOXX monkeypox treatment courses at specific locations where outbreaks are most severe.
The monkeypox virus has been detected in 49 U.S. states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There are 39,000 monkeypox cases globally.
“Monkeypox case data reported to CDC show that 98 percent of cases are occurring in men,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walenksy. Of those, almost all of the cases—93 percent—are in men who reported recent sexual activity with men.
Rochelle said the CDC is offering a newly developed toolkit to help LGBT event organizers “to provide and promote further monkeypox prevention strategies and key public health messages” to “otherwise hard-to-reach populations.”
Part of the public health messaging includes guidance on “temporarily limiting sexual partners.”
“Now, I want to emphasize that while we are offering the vaccine at these events to those at high risk, this is a two-dose vaccine series, and receiving the vaccine at these events will not provide protection at the event itself,” Rochelle said.
Scientists are rethinking how monkeypox spreads as evidence mounts that suggests the virus transmits more efficiently through sexual transmission and not so much the skin-to-skin contact that occurs during sex, NBC News reported.
“A growing body of evidence supports that sexual transmission, particularly through seminal fluids, is occurring with the current MPX outbreak,” Dr. Aniruddha Hazra, medical director of the University of Chicago Sexual Wellness Clinic, told NBC News, referring to monkeypox.
Vaccine Maker Has ‘Reservations’ About Biden Admin’s New Dosing Regime
Bavarian Nordic, the manufacturer of the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine, was caught by surprise when the Biden administration announced its plan to stretch vaccine supply fivefold by changing the dosing method.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Aug. 9 issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine to be administered by intradermal injection, which requires one-fifth of the dose of a normal subcutaneous injection.
However, Bavarian Nordic’s CEO wrote to the Biden administration and the FDA on Aug. 9 to say the company has “some reservations” about the new approach due to limited safety data.
“We do have some reservations on the ID approach, due to the very limited safety data available (<200 people), the higher reactogenicity compared to the Jynneos standard dose and route (subcutaneous [SC]), and the fact that there was a relatively high percentage of subjects (20 percent) that failed to receive the second vaccination during a controlled clinical study,” wrote Bavarian Nordic CEO Paul Chaplin.
“We have been made aware of some additional analysis of the ID study data, but essentially this does not change the overall picture that the ID administration results in increased reactogenicity compared to SC and this may have a negative impact on vaccine uptake and coverage.”