NEW YORK — New York City health officials said Friday they expect to have more monkeypox vaccination appointments available next week after receiving an initial shipment of 6,000 doses from the federal government. But will it be enough to stop the outbreak?
City officials added another nine new possible cases of monkeypox to the growing count on Friday when they gave the vaccine update, sending the total to 87, a widely believed undercount as the U.S. faces the largest monkeypox outbreak in its history.
The count of 87 marks a 12% increase in the last week for New York City. The five boroughs continue to account for about 22% of all suspected monkeypox cases in the United States, according to the CDC. That proportion has remained relatively stable as the national outbreak has worsened, now exceeding 400 suspected cases.
Only California has more suspected cases of monkeypox than the state of New York.
New York City health officials said in their Friday update that they were working with federal partners to get more doses out as quickly as possible. The news comes a day after Gov. Kathy Hochul said she spoke with senior White House officials about New York’s needs regarding the monkeypox vaccine, outreach, distribution and other efforts.
The plan right now is to target the highest-risk populations, and at this point, those include men who have sex with men, Hochul says. The governor said New York will soon have 8,195 doses of monkeypox vaccine available and pledged to continue working with the federal government to ensure future allocation needs are met.
New York City’s initial 6,000 doses may have come from that supply. Health officials said in a newly launched monkeypox page that they will provide information on how eligible New Yorkers can make appointments when vaccines arrive.
New York City began offering monkeypox vaccination last week to at-risk groups, but demand was so high that walk-ins were closed within hours. Doses ran out again over the weekend and the only clinic set up to offer them has been empty.
Unlike in the early days of the COVID pandemic, when there was no effective treatment, there are now multiple vaccines that work against the orthopoxvirus that causes monkeypox. It’s just a matter, again, of ensuring a sufficient supply.
Bavarian Nordic, which makes the Jynneos monkeypox and smallpox vaccine, says it is committed to getting its doses wherever they are needed.
“We support the decision by health clinics in New York City and the US government to proactively offer Jynneos to at-risk communities,” a company spokesperson said. “The distribution of the vaccine around the world is controlled by governments. In the United States, distribution of the vaccine is managed by the CDC. To date, we have not turned down a single request from governments that have requested doses of the vaccine. In the coming days, we will work to produce more vaccines if necessary.”
The US government said on Tuesday it would immediately release 56,000 doses of the Jynneos vaccine from the strategic national stockpile, with 240,000 doses to follow in the coming weeks.
For now, the only clinic in New York City that offers monkeypox vaccines as available is the Chelsea Sexual Health Clinic (303 Ninth Avenue in Manhattan). The clinic is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday from 11 am to 7 pm Previously, the clinic had to turn people away after running out of vaccine.