DC stretches its monkeypox vaccine supply to reach more people

In an effort to get the monkeypox vaccine out to as many residents as possible, the D.C. health department has decided to temporarily give people just one dose of the vaccine instead of two.

While the District has received about 14,000 doses so far, demand has outpaced supply.

“Nearly 16,000 D.C. residents have preregistered for the vaccination,” Clover Barnes with the D.C. health department said Monday during a town hall meeting on monkeypox.

Barnes said that studies show the first dose is effective for six months, giving D.C. health officials time to receive more vaccine shipments.

Then, when there is enough to go around, people can get their second shot.

Typically, the two shots are given roughly 28 days apart.

“For folks who have second dose appointments, most of them have been canceled except for those who are immunocompromised,” Barnes said.

The District has 172 confirmed cases, which is more per capita than any state.

Those eligible to receive the vaccine in D.C. include “gay, bisexual, and other men 18 and older who have sex with men and have had multiple or anonymous sexual partners in the last 14 days.”

The population hit hardest by monkeypox has been men in their early 30s who have sex with men, though officials for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stressed that the virus can infect anyone.

“Monkeypox spreads between people primarily through direct contact with infectious sores, scabs, or body fluids,” according to the D.C. health department. “Monkeypox can spread during intimate contact between people, including during sex, as well as activities like kissing, cuddling, or touching parts of the body with monkeypox sores.”

The positive cases in D.C. include a child under 1 who was diagnosed locally but is a U.K. resident traveling with family, Mayor Muriel Bowser confirmed Monday.

More than 3,400 U.S. cases have been confirmed as part of the international outbreak that started two months ago, according to CDC data.

Monkeypox is endemic in parts of Africa, where people have been infected through bites from rodents or small animals, The Associated Press reported.

It does not usually spread easily among people, but the AP said this year more than 15,000 cases have been reported in countries that historically don’t see the disease.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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