US health officials say they do not have enough monkeypox vaccines to cope with rising demand.
The US has seen more than 1,800 cases, which is considered an undercount because testing has also lagged. There is growing concern about the rate at which monkeypox is spreading, particularly in New York City, the epicentre of the US outbreak.
This disease, characterized by sores on the skin, usually gets better on its own but can be extremely painful.
Most confirmed cases are in men who have sex with men, although anyone can become infected with the virus. “We don’t yet have all the vaccines that we would like at this moment,” US Centers for Disease Control director Rochelle Walensky told a news briefing on Friday.
The US has received 370,000 out of nearly 7m vaccine doses that the government has purchased. But millions of the doses are not expected to arrive until next year.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the federal government has distributed about 156,000 doses nationwide and expects to start shipping another 130,000 doses from Monday.
Earlier this week, New York city’s vaccinations website crashed as thousands of people tried to book vaccine appointments at once. New York City Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan apologised for the patchy roll-out of the vaccine.
“We own it. You know, those mistakes shouldn’t happen, and so we’re working to correct those and do better,” he said at a news conference.
During a call on Tuesday with Biden administration officials, New York Mayor Eric Adams asked for the city to be allocated more doses.
The actual scope of the US outbreak is unknown as diagnostic testing has lagged, and it can take up to three weeks for symptoms to appear. A month ago, the US had just 45 cases.
“We’re still having problems with the availability of testing and vaccine supply, all these issues that we saw with Covid,” Gregg Gonsalves, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, told Kaiser Health News last week. “Now, the prospects for containment are receding quickly.”
The US has bought more than 1.1m doses of the Jynneos vaccine produced by Bavarian Nordic in Denmark.