Access to monkeypox vaccines, prescriptions lags as cases surpass 2,000: 4 updates

Some states are relying on their own strategies to ration monkeypox vaccines as confirmed U.S. cases surpass 2,000. 

As of July 19, 2,108 cases have been confirmed in the U.S., CDC data shows. The first cases were reported in May. Confirmed global cases have surpassed 13,000. 

Federal health officials said they anticipate U.S. cases to swell through at least August. Meanwhile, demand for the two-dose Jynneos monkeypox vaccine still far outstrips supply. 

"I want to acknowledge that at this time, demand for vaccines from jurisdictions is higher than our current available supply and we know that this is frustrating," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, said during a July 15 call with reporters. 

Three more updates: 

Vaccines: The Biden administration said it is updating its strategy to allocate monkeypox vaccine doses to prioritize jurisdictions with increasing case burden, "while still providing vaccine to all jurisdictions with individuals at increased risk for disease," Dr. Walensky said. 

HHS has distributed more than 156,000 doses as of July 15, with an additional 131,000 doses to be distributed to states this week. The agency on July 15 said it had ordered 2.5 million more Jynneos doses, bringing the nation's stockpile to nearly 7 million. The total supply is expected to be available by mid-2023. 

In the meantime, New York City — the epicenter of the outbreak — is prioritizing doses by using a "single-dose strategy," giving first doses to more at-risk residents rather than reserving supply to provide second doses on time. 

Testing: The CDC has worked to ramp up monkeypox testing in recent weeks. With more commercial labs coming online in recent weeks, the nation's testing capacity has increased to 80,000 per week, up from 6,000 initially. 

Treatment frustrations: Physicians have been frustrated with the lengthy process required to treat monkeypox patients and obtain a prescription for Tpoxx, the antiviral being used to treat the infection. Physicians say prescription requirements involve a "daunting" amount of paperwork and assessments and are urging federal health agencies to relax the rules limiting Tpoxx prescriptions.

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