PHILADELPHIA—The Philadelphia Department of Public Health has received its first shipment of JYNNEOS vaccine for monkeypox and will begin administering it to people who are at high-risk of becoming infected. These doses will be administered, by appointment only, to people who have been identified as contacts of people who have confirmed or probable monkeypox and others considered at high-risk. As of July 19, the Health Department has identified 33 cases of monkeypox in Philadelphia.
“Monkeypox is a rare, but potentially serious infection that is preventable,” said Coleman Terrell, the Health Department’s Director of Disease Control. “Philadelphia has recently been allocated doses of vaccine that can help protect those who may have been exposed to monkeypox. We believe that with a targeted distribution strategy, we can help contain the outbreak and continue to protect those in our community.”
The Health Department has received 1,605 doses of JYNNEOS vaccine, which is indicated for smallpox and monkeypox, for distribution. An additional 1,020 doses are expected to be received during the week of July 25, 2022. These vaccines will be made available to people who are considered to be high-risk at invitation-only clinics at a Health Department site.
Due to the relatively small number of vaccine doses available, eligibility to receive the vaccine is limited to people who have been identified as contacts of people who have tested positive for monkeypox and those identified by the Health Department as being at high-risk. As more doses become available, the Health Department will continue to expand the vaccine program.
“At this time, we are focused on protecting and treating those who are at the highest risk for exposure, and letting equity guide our decision-making process,“ said Erik Larson, Deputy Director of LGBT Affairs. “As we wait for more doses of vaccine to become available from the federal government, we encourage individuals to make safer personal choices where possible. Although monkeypox isn’t considered an STI, we always encourage individuals to have open conversations with their partners in order to increase safety and mitigate risk.”
The Health Department also launched a new blog post that provides advice for people who may have been exposed, and for those who may be experiencing symptoms of monkeypox. If a person is exposed to someone with monkeypox, they should call the Health Department at 215-685-5488 immediately. The Health Department will ask about the exposure and work with that person to set up an opportunity to receive a vaccine to help keep from getting monkeypox.
The vaccine must be provided as soon as possible, so making this call quickly is important. Vaccine is being distributed first to those at the highest-risk, so people who may be lower-risk might not get an immediate vaccine appointment.
People who are experiencing symptoms of monkeypox are encouraged to contact their regular healthcare provider, and tell their partners, as soon as possible. People who are experiencing symptoms of monkeypox or have been diagnosed with monkeypox cannot be vaccinated.
The Health Department, like other large health agencies around the world, will only be providing a single dose of monkeypox vaccine at the start of the effort. This means that, while the vaccine requires two doses to be considered fully vaccinated, people won’t be immediately scheduled for their second dose and may not receive it at the recommended 28-day interval. Research has shown that this delay should not negatively affect the immune response given by the second dose. This is the best way to ensure that as many people as possible get at least one dose. As more vaccine becomes available, the Health Department will work to contact those who need a second dose.
Monkeypox is a viral disease that is usually found in Central and West Africa. Monkeypox was first discovered in laboratory monkeys in 1958. In 1970, Monkeypox was reported in humans for the first time. Monkeypox can be fatal, but that’s rare and has never happened in the United States. Cases linked to the current outbreak have been identified in at least 43 states and number in the thousands.
The U.S. CDC maintains a website with the latest information on the outbreak at https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/response/2022/index.html.