NYC adopts ‘single-dose’ monkeypox vaccine strategy to fix supply shortage

NYC adopts ‘single-dose’ monkeypox vaccine strategy to fix supply shortage


Mayor Adams’ administration is dipping into the city’s monkeypox vaccine reserves in order to get as many first shots into arms as possible, flouting federal guidance to address severe supply shortages in the city as cases continue to mount.

In a statement late Friday, the city Health Department said it’s switching to a “single-dose strategy,” meaning it will no longer keep enough vaccine stockpiled so that those who got their first shot can bank on getting their second one within the next 28 days. Instead, the city will administer whatever vaccine it has as first doses, according to the department.

“New York City is the epicenter of the monkeypox outbreak in the U.S. and yet does not have sufficient vaccine supply to reach the number of people who need it protect themselves,” the statement said. “Given the rapid increase in cases, the Health Department has decided that providing first doses to offer protection to more at-risk New York is the best strategy until we receive adequate vaccine supply.”

Earlier in the day, President Biden’s top public health officials recommended against the single-dose approach.

“We understand the desire to want to get out as many doses as possible … but we do not recommend to go off of the recommended schedules,” Dr. Peter Marks, a senior official at the Food and Drug Administration, said during a conference call with reporters.

Marks said a single shot does not “provide the adequate protection” and voiced fear that abandoning the federal protocols could send the wrong message.

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“We do not want people to alter their behavior thinking they’re protected when they’re not,” he said.

The Adams administration’s policy switch came as the Health Department reported at least 461 confirmed monkeypox infections in the city — accounting for more than 30% of the total U.S. caseload.

As a result of the new strategy, the city was able to immediately make another 1,000 monkeypox vaccine appointments available, according to the Health Department.

So far, the city has only received about 21,000 doses of the vaccine since monkeypox began spreading here in May, the Health Department said.

But “a lot more” vaccine is bound for the city, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, promised during the conference call. The Biden administration has secured an additional 130,000 doses for the country that will be ready for delivery early next week, she said.

The CDC honcho would not specify exactly how many of the new doses will be reserved for the city, explaining that allocations are based on infection rates.

But considering the spike in cases in the Big Apple, Walensky said, “There will be a lot more supply for New York City.”

Late Friday, Gov. Hochul said she had gotten word from the White House that New York State is getting 32,785 vaccine doses next week — most of which are likely headed for the city. The state previously got more than 28,000 doses, she said.

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There are no known U.S. deaths from the virus, and public health officials have stressed it’s far less transmissible than COVID-19.

Monkeypox causes blister-like rashes, fever and other symptoms, and is currently spreading primarily among men who have sex with men. Previous outbreaks of the virus — which was first detected in laboratory monkeys in the 1950s — were largely contained to Africa and did not mostly impact gay and bisexual men.

The city’s case surge has caused a crushing vaccine demand, with hundreds of New Yorkers attempting to sign up for a shot, but being turned away due to flagging supplies. The city’s online portal for vaccine appointment has also crashed twice, prompting Dr. Ashwin Vasan, Adams’ health commissioner, to offer multiple public apologies.

The feds had distributed about 156,000 doses of monkeypox vaccine across the U.S. as of Thursday, according to the CDC. Biden officials on Friday’s conference call said they are taking steps to have about 7 million doses available by mid-next year.

The Biden administration faced criticism earlier this month for holding off on importing millions of U.S.-owned monkeypox vaccine doses from Denmark, where they are stuck at a manufacturing plant because U.S. regulators failed to inspect them on time.

Marks said his agency has nearly finished inspecting the Danish doses and expects to be able to have 780,000 of them ready for shipment to the U.S. by the end of this month.

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