Philadelphia’s monkeypox vaccine supply tightens amid concerns over virus

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — The Philadelphia Department of Public Health announced Tuesday that the city’s monkeypox vaccine allocation will be significantly reduced.

The city was supposed to receive more than 3,600 vials but will instead receive just over 700 after the FDA announced a vaccine dose-saving strategy.

That means for the foreseeable future, someone won’t get the vaccine unless you’ve had proven exposure.

“We have thousands of people at risk who should be vaccinated pre-emptively before they come into contact,” said Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, the Philadelphia Health Commissioner.

She says this could not have happened at a more critical time. Monkeypox cases in the city are increasing rapidly.

“We have an increase in cases of about 50% per week,” said Dr. Bettigole.

The health department currently estimates the number of high-risk patients in the city at 12,000.

To get the most out of the vaccine, says Dr. Bettigole that they will be reducing doses to just 1/5 the normal amount through what is called an “intradermal strategy”.

“This will deliver the vaccine into the layers of the skin rather than through the layers of the skin. In this way, the skin actually helps defend our body due to the immune cells in the skin itself. It can have similar efficacy to a vaccine, although at a smaller dose,” said Dr. Bettigole.

Transmission from human to pet

On Tuesday, eight reported children in the US tested positive, and now a dog in Paris has the virus after close contact with its infected owners.

Michael LeVasseur, an assistant professor at the Drexel School of Public Health, says the jump to animals isn’t uncommon and it doesn’t mean monkeypox is spreading out of control.

“A few years ago we had an outbreak of prairie dogs in the United States. So it’s nothing unusual,” LeVasseur said.

SEE ALSO: Dog contracted monkeypox in first reported human-to-pet transmission, report says

There have been 13 cases in Camden County, with 335 confirmed cases of monkeypox across New Jersey, according to Camden County Department of Health director Caryelle Lasher.

In Pennsylvania, the CDC reports 336 cases and just 10 in Delaware.

In the United States, nearly 12,000 people have been infected with this virus, which causes a rash and flu-like symptoms and is spread through intimate or skin-to-skin contact.

“It can include parties, places where there is a lot of dancing, just close skin contact with other people. There we see the possibility of transmission. Those are higher-risk activities,” Lasher said.

Conerns at college

Incoming freshmen at Temple University have just moved in for the fall semester and now have another virus to worry about after already losing two years of high school memories to Covid-19.

“The things I’ve seen are that it’s skin-to-skin and transmitted differently. So I’m not worried as much as I was with Covid, but I know you have to pay attention,” said freshman Sendai Hagos.

ALSO SEE: Public Health Emergency Monkeypox Declared: What You Need to Know

“I’m pretty nervous because it’s spreading, but I think Temple probably has it under wraps,” said newcomer Michelle Nguyen.

Temple University offers treatment options for monkeypox, but says that due to Philadelphia’s limited vaccine supply, appointments are only given to high-risk people who have been exposed.

“All we can do is talk to our kids about how to be safe and hygienic,” said Beth Menasion of West Philadelphia.

SEE ALSO: “It Still Hurts”: A Philadelphia Man With Monkeypox Shares His Story

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