As monkeypox cases continue to climb worldwide, demands for vaccines to combat the virus are crashing the vaccine appointment system in New York City.
The city of over 8 million people has been running out of supplies almost as soon as they arrive, the Associated Press reported.
City health officials acknowledged the frustration over the limited vaccine supply and said they would create a more “stable appointment infrastructure” as vaccine supply increases.
Shortages and snags in vaccine availability aren’t just a problem in the nation’s largest city.
In Baltimore, Jeff Waters asked his doctor to be vaccinated before he left for a trip to Europe, where cases have been rising. “They said ‘Sorry, we just don’t have them here,’” Waters told the AP. Weeks later Waters developed what he described as a “mild case” of the disease, which nonetheless involved intense headaches, chills and a high fever.
Infections from monkeypox have now passed 1,000 cases in the United States. Symptoms typically include fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. People who suffer from a more severe case may also develop a rash and lesions on the face and hands that may spread to other parts of the body, including the genitals.
Health officials say that anyone is susceptible to monkeypox, but most cases have been reported in men who have sex with men. Scientists warn that anyone in close contact with someone who’s contracted the disease or their clothing or bedsheets is at risk of contracting the virus, regardless of their sexual orientation.
Monkeypox is spread through direct contact with rashes, scabs or body fluids, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can spread through kissing, sex and body contact. Exposure to unwashed laundry contaminated by the virus could also lead to infection, as could extended face-to-face contact with a sick individual.
The CDC said commercial laboratories are developing tests for the virus, including the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis, which will be accepting samples from around the country for testing purposes as early as this week.
“This will not only increase testing capacity, but also make it more convenient for providers and patients to access tests by using existing provider-to-laboratory networks,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement released earlier this week.
The fact that the disease has so far infected predominantly gay men has prompted new concerns over stigmatizing LGBTQ+ populations. New York City is giving priority in vaccine appointments to men who have had anonymous sex with other men or men who have had multiple partners over the last two weeks, the AP reported.
To date, New York City has administered nearly 7,000 vaccinations, with thousands more waiting in the wings to get their inoculation, the AP said. By Wednesday, 336 people in the city had tested positive for orthopoxvirus, a category which also includes smallpox. That’s a fourth more than the day before, per city data. Officials noted they believe all these new cases of orthopoxvirus to be monkeypox, and that there are likely many more undiagnosed cases.
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., officials are allowing residents to pre-register for vaccine appointments, with some 3,000 slots to open sometime on Thursday, the AP reported.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on the recent monkeypox outbreak.
SOURCES: Associated Press
By Ernie Mundell and Ellie Quinlan Houghtaling HealthDay Reporters
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