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Monkeypox Vaccines Being Rolled Out Nationwide As Case Numbers Rise

Over 11,000 cases of Monkeypox have now been recorded in the US, with the largest number of individuals infected residing in California, Florida, and New York. Since the first case was detected in Massachusetts on May 18th, this disease has now spread across the country and CDC officials have shared that it may be too late to significantly stop the spread.

The Jynneos vaccine, which was developed in 2019 to prevent monkeypox and smallpox, is now being administered in certain areas to those who are over 18 years old and meet certain criteria. In Washington DC, there is currently the “highest number of cases per capita,” resulting in the CDC taking immediate action to ensure that all all-risk or infected individuals are able to get vaccinated immediately. While this disease disproportionately affects gay and bisexual men who engage in sexual activities with other men, the qualifications for receiving the vaccine include “all people, of any sexual orientation or gender, who have had multiple sexual partners in the past 2 weeks, including those currently considered highest risk: gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, transgender men, and transgender women, sex workers, or staff at establishments where sexual activity occurs (e.g., bathhouses, saunas, sex clubs).” 

The issue with this vaccine is limited supply in the US at the moment, since all recipients are meant to receive two doses, with the second one given 14 days after the first. A shortage of vaccines is all too familiar for Americans following the initial rollout of the Covid-19 vaccines a year and a half ago, and information has now been released that the federal government made the decision to have patients receive smaller doses of the vaccine so that more people could be protected. While CNN shared that apparently this smaller dose showed “a very similar immune response” in a 2015 clinical study, it is still nerve wracking to think that individuals who are vaccinated and therefore, think they are immune, could still be susceptible to the disease.

The smallpox vaccine ACAM2000, which the government has over 100 million doses of, is partially effective against monkeypox, but also has much harsher side effects and could have serious consequences for anyone who is immunocompromised, therefore making the CDC much more hesitant to use it as a replacement to the well-tested Jynneos vaccine. Luckily, the monkeypox disease that Americans are currently contracting is not a deadly strain, like officials have observed in some African cases. For now, we must not panic that our lives are in danger whatsoever, and practice safe sex and avoid direct contact with anyone that you know is infected. 

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