There is no information on who has received the monkeypox vaccine in the US


The monkeypox outbreak in the United States has been ongoing for nearly three months, with more than 12,000 cases and counting.

But despite the Jynneos vaccine being ramped up and a new strategy to extend the current supply fivefold, there is no evidence that protection is reaching those most at risk.

“If you think there’s a limited number of vaccines, you want to understand which groups to target first,” said Dr. Stella Safo, HIV primary care physician and founder of the advocacy group Just Equity for Health.

“It’s the object of equity that we all don’t experience disease and the various social determinants of health. Therefore, treatment and available resources should be directed to those who need them most.

A detailed analysis of monkeypox cases released this month by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shed new light on which populations, including blacks and Hispanics, are disproportionately affected by the outbreak.

However, there is no nationwide review of who receives the vaccine, and limited state-level data are not promising.

According to the CDC, more than half of cases of monkeypox nationwide were among Hispanics (28%) or blacks (26%), who make up just over a third of the general population.

In North Carolina, the disparity is even worse. More than 70% of the cases were among black people, but about a quarter (26%) of the vaccines went to black people in the state, according to data posted on the state health department’s website.

In Colorado, fewer than 15 percent of the monkeypox vaccines went to black or Hispanic people, according to data the state health department shared with CNN last week.

“It is not surprising that there is a disparity in who gets vaccinated compared to who gets monkeypox,” said Dr. Oni Blackstock is a primary care and HIV physician and founder of the consulting firm Health Justice. “So we don’t think these are isolated cases. These disparities can and indeed must be addressed across the United States, especially if we are to bring the current epidemic under control.

The public health response has come under fire during the monkeypox outbreak in the US, with blame being placed between the federal government and the states.

US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said last month that the federal government is ready to respond, but needs more help from local governments.

“We need states, local public health directors to give us information. Not only that, we don’t know how much, but we know how to concentrate the help we can give,” he said. “We need more cooperation with the local people to get the information we need.”

The CDC is finalizing a data use agreement with states that will serve as a “reciprocal agreement” to provide monkeypox vaccination data to the agency from “various sources.” This is in addition to the Covid-19 data use agreement and applies the same “terms and conditions”. The draft data use agreement states that its purpose is to “advance the federal government’s efforts to develop a comprehensive picture of national monkeypox vaccine management.”

As of last week, 54 of the 61 jurisdictions had signed it.

But when CNN reached out to all 50 states for demographic information about who had received the monkeypox vaccine, most did not respond at all. Many of them said they were not ready to release the data due to privacy concerns, either because the number of people vaccinated was small or because of delays in processing demographic data.

The lack of information about who received the monkeypox vaccine has also caught the attention of political leaders.

Last week, the representative of the United States. Richie Torres has sent a letter to local leaders in his state of New York, as well as HHS and CDC, urging them to release demographic data on rabies vaccinations.

“History tells us that we cannot trust the public health system to automatically meet the needs of the poor: transparency and accountability must and must exist, and open reporting of demographic data is essential to both,” he wrote.

On Monday, eight D.C. Council members sent a letter to the local health department demanding more information about vaccinations to ensure equitable coverage. They’re asking for more information to show how the district is “applying lessons learned during COVID to deliver and distribute monkeypox vaccines.”

For Blackstock, monkeypox is a “repeat” of what happened with Covid-19, but worse.

“Again, there is very little sense of urgency in terms of getting resources to marginalized groups, vulnerable groups and communities that need them most,” he said. “Monkey pox stigmatizes gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, followed by intersections with black and Latino men.”

In a statement Monday, Becerra emphasized the need for coordination and cooperation to ensure that additional vaccines are available to states.

“We will continue to work with our government partners to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of doses of this vaccine to protect those most at risk and limit the spread of the virus,” he said.

Experts say that in general, but especially with the sensitive nature of the current monkeypox outbreak – working closely with the communities most affected is critical.

Washington, D.C.’s health department told CNN that “while reducing the specificity of the data, there has been an increase in people receiving the vaccine, particularly in the Black community.”

This reflects a historical mistrust of health care, as well as the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, said Sappho.

“People don’t trust that this collected data won’t be used to harm them. However, from a public health perspective, we need this data to understand how to target resources,” he said.

“When we think about how we collect data, how we develop vaccines, how we talk about these conditions, it comes back to the fact that people from these communities need to be at the design table. ”


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