Because monkeypox vaccine is still in short supply, the Biden administration is changing how the vaccine is administered to extend its limited doses.
On Tuesday, federal health officials announced the decision to allow the JYNNEOS vaccine to be injected into layers of skin rather than fat, as is currently the case.
By giving the shots this way, each person needs only one-fifth of the full dose.
For a change, the Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine for emergency use to allow for a new dosing and injection strategy. (This follows last week’s decision by the US Department of Health and Human Services to declare monkeypox a public health emergency, and an additional declaration today.)
“The monkeypox virus has continued to spread rapidly in recent weeks, making it clear that our vaccine supply cannot meet current demand,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert M. Califf. “This increases the total number of doses available for use by up to five times.”
Even with the change, a person would need to get two doses of the vaccine.
FDA approval also allows those under 18 who are considered to be at high risk of contracting monkeypox to get the shot. However, this population receives the vaccine by subcutaneous injection rather than the alternative method of injection between the layers of the skin.
An estimated 1.6 million to 1.7 million people in the U.S. are considered to be at highest risk of the disease, but only about 1.1 million vaccine doses are available because of vaccine stockpiles and delays in ordering replacements. About 670,000 of these doses were sent to states and other jurisdictions.
Under the new dosing plan, the remaining 400,000 vials of vaccine “will have the capacity to deliver up to 2 million doses to Americans,” said Robert Fenton, the White House’s monkeypox coordinator.
The skin is home to a number of immune cells that trigger an immune response, and this approach has been used with other vaccines, said Dr. John Andrus, an infectious disease specialist at George Washington University.
“It’s actually a very good technique and it makes sense to move forward with it,” he said.
But there’s more: Getting the vaccine between the skin layers is more difficult and requires special preparation. While this method works against polio and yellow fever, it can also help with monkeypox, according to a 2015 study.
Federal health officials acknowledge there are still questions about how well the monkeypox vaccine works.
“There is no traditional evaluation of this vaccine,” Califf said, adding that the vaccine is based “on its immunological response, not clinical outcomes.”
So far, there have been about 9,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the U.S., and this is likely an undercount due to ongoing testing.
“Now, if we’re going to get ahead of this virus, we need a lot of vaccine in a short period of time,” said Ann Rimoin, an epidemiologist at UCLA. “And these vaccines can be very effective.”
During the current epidemic, the vast majority of cases in the US occur in the gay and queer sex industry, primarily among men who have sex with men.
Monkey pox causes sores on the skin or mucous membranes. The virus can be transmitted when the infected person rubs against another person’s skin or mucous membranes, especially if uninfected skin is broken or broken. According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of cases in the US have been through male-to-male sex.
Monkey pox can be transmitted by non-sexual contact with someone through face-to-face contact, respiratory droplets, or contact with a contaminated surface: However, data from this outbreak indicate that these routes of transmission are very rare in public settings. When they appear, it happens when they live with an infected person and are in contact with them for a long time.
“In recent history, gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men have shown significant confidence in vaccines, with a COVID vaccination rate of more than 90%,” said Dr. Demeter Daskalakis, director of the CDC’s HIV/AIDS division and deputy White House monkeypox coordinator. “I think we’ll see that we may run out of vaccines before we run out of weapons.”