Demand for monkeypox vaccine overwhelms New York system

ByShannon J. Cortes

Jul 13, 2022

NEW YORK (AP) — Growing demand for the monkeypox vaccine caused the appointment system to collapse in New York City, one of many places where supplies ran out almost as soon as they arrived.

City health officials have acknowledged frustration with the limited vaccine supply and pledged to build a “stable appointment infrastructure” as the vaccine supply grows.

Infections are now over 1,000 since the growing outbreak in the United States. Most patients experience only fever, body aches, chills, and fatigue. People with more severe illness may develop a rash and sores on the face and hands that may spread to other parts of the body.


Vaccine shortages have added to anxiety around the virus. Health officials say anyone can get monkeypox, but most cases in the United States are in men who have sex with men. Scientists warn that anyone in close physical contact with someone with monkeypox or with their clothing or bedding is at risk of infection, regardless of sexual orientation.

“After COVID, it should have been easy,” said Daniel Ross, 25, a Harlem man who was one of many who sought to make an appointment on Tuesday. “I kept refreshing and refreshing myself. …I was frustrated.

Ross quickly abandoned the dating portal, which was shut down minutes after it went live.

“It’s going to haunt me,” he said. “Me being a gay man living in Harlem, there’s a lot of anxiety. I had four mosquito bites and was wondering if it was a mosquito bite? »

New York City has administered nearly 7,000 vaccines to date, while thousands more await their chance to be vaccinated against the virus. Health officials said they expect 14,500 doses this week.

As of Wednesday, 336 people in New York had tested positive for orthopoxvirus, a category of disease that includes smallpox. That’s a quarter more than the day before, according to city data. Officials said they were fairly certain that all of the new cases were likely monkeypox and that many other cases remain undiagnosed.

Learning from its experience with rolling out COVID vaccines, Washington, DC is allowing residents to pre-register for vaccination appointments. As many as 3,000 slots were expected to open on Thursday, officials said.

As news of the outbreak spread, Jeff Waters asked his doctor to get vaccinated before the Baltimore man left for a trip to Europe, where cases spiked. “They said, ‘Sorry, we just don’t have them here,'” Waters recalled.

A few weeks later, the first signs of monkeypox struck him while having dinner with a friend. He developed terrible headaches, a fever of 102 degrees (38.9 degrees Celsius) and intense chills.

“I feel grateful. I had a mild case,” Waters said.

New York City is prioritizing the vaccine for men who have had anonymous sex with other men or had multiple partners in the past two weeks.

Symptoms include rashes or sores that look like pimples or blisters. They can sometimes be painful but usually not fatal. Most people do not require hospitalization and recover in two to four weeks.

Infections spread through direct contact with rashes, scabs or bodily fluids, according to the CDC. It can be spread through kissing, sex, and bodily contact. In some cases, prolonged face-to-face exposure, as well as unwashed laundry contaminated with the virus, could lead to infection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said commercial labs have developed ways to test for the virus. The CDC said the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis will begin accepting samples from around the country this week to build the nation’s testing capacity.

“This will not only increase testing capacity, but also make it more convenient for providers and patients to access testing using existing provider-to-laboratory networks,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. a statement earlier this week.

The prevalence of gay men among those infected with the virus has raised new concerns about the stigmatization of LGBTQ populations.

Jay Jurden, a comedian from New York, has expressed concern about his inability to get a vaccine, especially given the ramifications in a city with tens of thousands of gay people.

“If they say there’s a vaccine available, people should be able to get it — or at least the website should be working,” Jurden said. “I’m not even saying everyone should be able to pick it up tomorrow, just that the website should be working.”

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Associated Press medical editor Mike Stobbe contributed to this report.