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White House Amps Monkeypox Reax

FILE: Illustration shows mock-up vials labeled "Monkeypox vaccine. Taken 5.25.2022
FILE: Illustration shows mock-up vials labeled "Monkeypox vaccine. Taken 5.25.2022

The White House said Tuesday it is taking new actions to combat the monkeypox (MPV) outbreak and protect individuals most at risk by providing additional vaccines to states and cities holding events that convene large groups of LGBTQI+ individuals, specifically gay and bisexual men.

In a briefing Tuesday, Xavier Becerra, head of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department said: "I'm happy to announce that we will be allocating an additional supply of the JYNNEOS vaccine vials to the Southern Decadence Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the Black Pride Festival in Atlanta, Georgia, which will allow up to 5000 vaccinations at each event."

Bexerra added "We'll also be allocating an additional supply of JYNNEOS vials to two festivals in Oakland, California."

Earlier this month, health officials said they were setting aside an extra 50,000 doses of monkeypox vaccine for places with scheduled gay pride festivals.

The number of doses sent to each place will be based on factors like the size of the event, how many health workers will be available to give shots, and how many of the attendees are considered at the highest risk for catching the virus.

In addition, the White House announced a new pilot program to reach those who are at elevated risk of contracting monkeypox but may face barriers in accessing the vaccine because of the stigma that may be associated with attending public vaccine events, that could disclose the sexual identity, gender identity, or level of sexual activity.

Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, White House Monkeypox Response Deputy Coordinator:
"We're announcing an equity innovation pilot that earmarks an additional 10,000 vials of vaccine for smaller equity interventions that are identified by jurisdictions."

The White House official added "This is an exciting new program that is directly based on our conversations and collaboration with local leaders and groups on the ground about what they may need to reach their communities. Jurisdictions that have used more than 50% of their delivered vaccine qualify for an allocation of vaccine to support up to five smaller equity interventions that reach populations that could benefit from monkeypox prevention."

Monkeypox is endemic in parts of Africa, where people have been infected through bites from rodents or small animals, but it wasn't considered a disease that spreads easily among people until May, when infections emerged in Europe and the U.S.

There have been more than 48,000 cases reported in countries that have not historically seen monkeypox. The vast majority have occurred in men who have sex with men, but health officials stress that anyone can get monkeypox.

The U.S. has the most infections of any country - more than 18,000. About 98% of U.S. cases are men and about 93% were men who reported recent sexual contact with other men.