Faced with a growing epidemic of smallpox virus, New York health officials on Thursday expanded the availability of a smallpox vaccine to a new group of high-risk people: men who have had multiple or anonymous male sexual partners recently. two weeks.
New York City is the first U.S. jurisdiction in the UK and Canada to expand access to the vaccine beyond such close contact with infected people following similar steps.
Since mid-May, public health workers have been struggling to respond effectively to an epidemic in dozens of countries, especially in the networks of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men.
As of Thursday, 30 cases of the smallpox virus had been reported in New York City. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention registered 173 cases across the country. Worldwide, more than 3,300 cases have been reported in 42 countries, with the exception of Africa, the world’s largest global epidemic.
No casualties have been reported outside Africa, but 72 people have died in endemic Africa since the beginning of the year.
The opening of the first clinic in New York to offer the vaccine on Thursday was not announced in advance. Instead, after the news broke at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, news of the sudden emergence of the vaccine spread on social media and word of mouth.
In the afternoon, a line of more than 100 men was set up near the Chelsea Sexual Health Clinic, the only place in the city to offer shootings.
At about 1:30 p.m., the clinic staff refused to accept new patients online next week.
There is a limited number of preferred vaccines against smallpox approved by the Food and Drug Administration. It is produced in Denmark and is known as Jynneos in the United States. Although the federal government has about 1.4 million doses, Manhattan District President Mark Levine said there are only about 1,000 vaccines available to city residents.
A statement from the city’s Department of Health said, “The demand we are seeing today is further evidence of how active the LGBTQ + community and all New Yorkers are in caring for their health and wellness.” “We are in talks with the CDC to get more doses and are looking at how we can increase our capacity across the city.”
Advocates for gay men’s health have been calling for more access to the vaccine for weeks. Until Thursday, it was primarily recommended only to certain contacts of infected people and certain medical personnel. Especially with the Pride Parade and related holidays taking place this weekend, the city seemed to underestimate the demand.
James Krellenstein, co-founder of the PrEP4All health group, was one of the first at the clinic around noon. He took the dose until 12:30 p.m., and said Pride was relieved to have at least some protection before the parties began in full swing.
“I think it’s amazing to do this without consulting the public,” he said, but the clinic’s opening was “the right thing to do.” We need to make the vaccine available to the general public at this time. ”
He said there is a strong desire to get at least one dose of the two-dose vaccine by this weekend, which will provide at least protection against the spread, even among people who do not plan to have sex. The disease can be transmitted by skin-to-skin contact with infected wounds anywhere on the body and does not require sexual intercourse.
“At parties, people usually take off their shirts and dance close to each other,” he said. “It allows us to feel a little more comfortable.”
Vaccines will be available at the clinic on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., the city said. There should be more meetings in the web-appointment system starting Sunday, officials said.
The smallpox virus, as it was named in 1958 in captive monkeys, usually begins with flu-like symptoms, such as fever and swollen lymph nodes, and then develops into a rash with purulent sores on the face and body.
Although its relative has a much lower mortality rate than smallpox, it can cause 3 to 6 percent of deaths in endemic African areas. It is most commonly transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, but can also be transmitted through prolonged contact or in contact with common objects, such as towels.
What you need to know about the monkey smallpox virus
What is smallpox? Smallpox is a virus that has spread to parts of Central and West Africa. It is similar to smallpox, but less severe. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it was discovered in 1958 after an outbreak of the disease in monkeys being kept for research.
In this global epidemic, the disease sometimes manifests itself differently, with only a few sores on the genital area or internal organs. As a result, there is a risk of confusing it with other sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis and herpes, the CDC recently issued a health warning.
Testing in the United States is conducted at one of about 70 public health laboratories across the country, but the CDC recently announced that it is expanding access to some commercial laboratories to make it easier for health care providers to take the tests. The pace of testing is still relatively low, but some people who suspect they have monkey disease are struggling to find providers to test them.
As of Wednesday, there were a total of 1,058 outbreaks of the family of viruses, including the smallpox virus, across the country, the CDC said.
Joseph Osmundson, a microbiologist at New York University, is one of a group of activists demanding greater access to testing and vaccinations, saying access to the vaccine is a “major public outcry” and he hopes other cities will follow suit. In the footsteps of New York and soon clinics will open.
At the same time, he said, health workers need to be notified early on the opening of clinics to ensure greater access to doses.
“We fully understand that we are flying when we make an airplane, and not everything is perfect,” he said. “But we’re concerned about fairness and communication, and the people who got the first vaccinations were the ones who were most attached to the information.”
Success and coincidence also determined who fired the first shot.
David Polk, who lives in the kitchen of hell, said he arrived at the Chelsea clinic at about 12:15 p.m., but not for vaccination. He saw a table and a tent by the door.
“I thought it was a gift,” the gentleman said. Regiment, 39, said. It turned out to be a registration for the vaccine and Mr. The regiment was the first to arrive.
“I’m sure they didn’t expect all of these people,” he said. The regiment said, “Because when I got here, no one was here and the meeting system didn’t work, so I had to wait a while.”
But within half an hour many vaccine seekers began to arrive and soon a long queue formed and he left. “I think the staff here were as shocked as I was,” he said. Said Polk.
Sean Piccoli contributed to the report.