Poor logistics, planning and clunky systems have plagued the rollout of the monkeypox vaccine in America, state officials say — exacerbating a dire situation already created by the country’s lack of injections.
An official from 20 states told the New York Times that the federal government’s way of implementing the shots was ineffective and lacking. Many shipments ended up in bad condition. Local officials also had little ability to track when the strikes would arrive, limiting their ability to plan distribution. Sometimes shots arrived mislabeled or packaged, resulting in the shots being spoiled.
These failures further exacerbate America’s already sparse access to footage. According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), federal officials made 1.1 million jabs available to states and delivered 600,000 to local health departments. Experts estimate that it will take at least three million doses just for vaccinated men who have sex with other men, the most at-risk group.
These issues arise as America’s monkeypox epidemic — the world’s largest to date — continues to spiral. The CDC reported 419 new cases on Friday, the latest update to bring the national tally to 11,177. No U.S. deaths have been reported in the outbreak.
“Our response has been completely ineffective and is breaking the backs of state and local opponents… [I’ve never] she saw that level of frustration and stress,” Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, told the Times.
Of the 20 states that reported problems, more than half are run by Democrats. This signals that these frustrations are not a political ploy.
The Jynneos vaccine, which is at the center of the national response to monkeypox, is manufactured by the Danish company Bavarian Nordic. It was originally targeted at smallpox, but it is effective against a tropical virus because it belongs to the same orthopoxvirus family.
The strike is distributed directly from the national strategic stockpile – not through the VTrckS system used to deliver the COVID-19 strikes across the country.
Officials complained that the system used for monkeypox was clunky, inefficient and did not give them enough information about the status of their order.
Currently, each state has five distinct locations where shots are fired. Local officials are then responsible for their distribution within the states.
For larger states like California and Texas, this can make it a problem to simply ship shotguns to areas that aren’t near one of the five distinct delivery points.
Local authorities also know little when the shots will arrive. They don’t get any tracking data, so it’s hard for them to schedule a shipment.
Access to the Jynneos vaccine has been limited in the US, with only 1.1 million doses made available so far and 600,000 distributed to local officials (file photo)
“We had no way of tracking the vaccine shipments when they were actually sent or when they were supposed to arrive … they just appeared without warning.” Chris Van Deusen, director of media relations for the Texas Department of State Health Services, told the Times.
Sometimes packages are not clearly marked as containing vaccines – which can lead to injections not being properly stored after delivery.
Also, the sting often ends up in the wrong place. One shipment of 5,000 doses destined for Fort Lauderdale, Florida ended up in Oklahoma, Tennessee and Mississippi before reaching its intended destination in the Sunshine State.
The Times reports that rations delivered to Idaho and Minnesota ended up unusable due to poor packaging.
The federal government has responded to these complaints by saying that the strategic stockpile is aimed at pushing out shots as quickly as possible – instead of using the ordering system used during Covid.
The complaints come as the federal government plans to overhaul the introduction of the shots. Not logistically, but instead by reducing rations to make limited supplies go further.
Federal officials plan to deliver doses of the vaccine that are only 0.1 milliliters (ml), a huge drop from the standard dose of 0.5 ml.
He believes that using an intradermal injection – which injects the vaccine between the layers of skin instead of under the fat – will ensure that the injection is just as effective.
However, there are some questions as to whether this is the right move.
In 2015, researchers found that smallpox vaccines were just as effective when given in smaller doses when injected intradermally.
Paul Chaplin, CEO of Bavarian Nordic, published an open letter to Dr. Xavier Becerra, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, and Dr. to Robert Califf, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, in which he expressed concern about the lack of data supporting the plan.
The Danish pharmaceutical giant is calling for further tests of the effectiveness of smaller doses to be carried out before the nation overhauls its vaccination strategy.
Currently, the shots are mainly reserved for men having sex with other men – although some exposed people have been allowed the shot as a precaution.
Meanwhile, the monkeypox epidemic in the country continues to develop. Nearly 6,000 of the 11,177 total cases reported so far in America have come since August 1.
New York still accounts for the largest share of cases, with 2,295 reported since the virus was first found in the states in May. Most of those cases are in New York.
California (1,945 confirmed cases of monkeypox) and Florida (1,085) are the only other states with more than 1,000 cases each.