Distribution of monkeypox vaccine focuses limited supply on those at highest risk of infection
Posted on July 25, 2022 at Editorial
HONOLULU – The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) will open monkeypox vaccination appointments for Hawaii residents at higher risk of monkeypox infection or serious illness this week.
Starting Wednesday, July 27, Hawaii residents 18 and older who are currently eligible for a JYNNEOS vaccine, which is used to prevent monkeypox, will include:
- Individuals who have had exposure to individuals with confirmed orthopoxvirus/monkeypox virus within the past 14 days
- Homosexuals, bisexuals and other men who have sex with men and transgender individuals with high-risk intimate contacts in settings (indoor sex events, spas, sex clubs) or areas where monkeypox is known to be spreading in the 14 days last
To date, Hawaiʻi has received 1,400 doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine. The DOH received its allocation from the National Strategic Stock and will continue to receive allocations when the supply becomes available. Demand is expected to exceed Hawaiʻi’s extremely limited supply.
“We continue to work on the equitable distribution of the monkeypox vaccine,” said deputy state epidemiologist Dr. Nathan Tan. “We thank the community for their patience as we vaccinate those most at risk of infection or serious illness, and we thank our partners who stepped up to provide vaccines in the community.”
DOH is distributing the vaccine to health care providers in each county, who directly reach individuals at highest risk of exposure to monkeypox. Beginning Wednesday, July 27, individuals who fall into one of the above groups should call DOH at 808-586-4462 for an appointment. The hotline is available Monday through Friday from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Individuals who call outside of regular business hours may leave a voicemail. Appointment scheduling is not currently available through individual providers.
While JYNNEOS is approved as a two-dose series, DOH and its vaccine partners are prioritizing the first doses to reach as many people as possible. The first dose is effective as a post-exposure prophylaxis, which can help prevent infections. DOH and its partners will notify the community when there is sufficient supply to schedule second dose appointments. This approach is intended to put Hawaiʻi’s limited supply of vaccines to those most likely to be exposed to mitigate the spread, while the DOH plans for additional vaccine availability in the coming weeks and months.
JYNNEOS is FDA approved for the prevention of monkeypox disease in adults. However, since no vaccine is 100% effective, it is important that individuals reduce their risk of potential exposure to monkeypox both before and after receiving a dose of JYNNEOS.
Monkeypox is spread primarily through close, intimate contact with bodily fluids, wound material, or items used by someone with monkeypox. Monkeypox can spread through large respiratory droplets. These points generally cannot travel more than a few feet, so prolonged face-to-face contact is required.
Individuals with symptoms of monkeypox, including flu-like symptoms, swollen lymph nodes, or new or unexplained rashes or sores, should contact their health care provider immediately.
Across the country, the current cases are spreading mainly on the social networks of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. In Hawai’i, at least some of the cases have been reported among gay or bisexual men. However, anyone who has close contact with someone with monkeypox is at risk of infection, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
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