Wisconsin health officials say new monkeypox vaccine method will help boost state’s limited supply

A Wisconsin Department of Health official says they hope the change in federal guidelines for administering the monkeypox vaccine will help increase the limited number of doses available. But it will take time to ensure that healthcare providers are ready to administer the vaccine in a new way.

The monkeypox virus, which is similar to smallpox, continued to spread across the United States and prompted federal health officials to declare a public health emergency last week.

There have been 32 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Wisconsin since it was first reported in the state in July. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed there were nearly 9,500 confirmed cases in the U.S. as of Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the US Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency authorization to allow health care providers to administer a smaller dose of the JYNNEOS vaccine through an intradermal injection, which is found in the layers of the skin, instead of under it through a subcutaneous injection. injection.

Dr. Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer of the DHS Bureau of Communicable Diseases, said the new method uses one-fifth of the regular dose, but has been shown to cause the body to produce the same level of antibodies.

“We have more people who can benefit from vaccines than we have doses. So the ability to expand our vaccine that much further is a great opportunity,” Westergaard said during a call with reporters.

Westergaard said nearly 600 doses had already been administered as of Tuesday. DHS reported that 3,286 vials of the JYNNEOS vaccine have arrived in the state so far. The federal government has allocated a total of 5,986 vials to Wisconsin, and officials say they will ask for more.

Following federal guidelines, DHS is prioritizing the vaccine for people who have had contact with someone with monkeypox and members of the LGBTQ+ community, especially gay and bisexual men. The virus affected this community first in the US, and the majority of cases worldwide have been transmitted through sexual or intimate contact, although the virus is not considered a sexually transmitted disease and anyone can contract it.

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Westergaard said DHS is working to disseminate guidance on the new intradermal injection technique to vaccination sites and change the state’s immunization registry so providers can report the smaller doses. He said the step is important to allow the state to monitor available inventory and how many people have been vaccinated as they continue to manage the public health emergency.

Westergaard said they have not ordered vaccine sites to stop administering the full dose of vaccine and are still encouraging providers to give the subcutaneous injection to those who are eligible as they prepare to switch to intradermal injections.

“But as soon as possible and in as many places as possible, we will encourage people to use the new technique,” Westergaard said. “We are looking at options to make sure staff have a variety of syringes that can be used for intradermal administration and serve all of our vaccinating partners to see if there are any training or manpower needs.”

He said these types of injections are a technique most nurses learn and are most often used to test for TB.

As many colleges and universities prepare for the start of a new semester and the return of many students to campus, Westergaard said DHS is in contact with school officials to see how the state can help prevent a breach. He said the state’s response was very similar to that used during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Through our work with the COVID response, we have made connections with many colleges and universities, student health clinics and administrative leadership,” he said. “We’re using those same communication channels to help them plan on campus and share the same kind of information about the disease, about who’s at risk, about how to set up vaccination clinics.”

He said there is less anxiety about getting students back into K-12 schools, but the agency has the same communications networks in place to get school officials the information they need.

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