Monkeypox Vax Eligibility Expands to Those Under 18, County Says It Got Less Than One Half the Doses It Expected
Los Angeles County launched an additional monkeypox vaccination location on Thursday, one day after officials disclosed this week that the county had received fewer than half the amount of fresh doses expected.
Despite the unanticipated shortfall, health officials said the county will continue to administer second doses of the two-shot protocol to people who qualify. On Thursday, the county also announced an increase of vaccine eligibility to cover people under the age of 18 who are assessed to be at high risk of infection.
County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis also confirmed the county’s first known monkeypox case at a jail, as well as the first at a homeless shelter, on Thursday. The names of those patients were not revealed, but Davis stated that the county was conducting contact tracing and vaccination anyone who had been exposed.
Meanwhile, El Monte Supervisor Hilda Solis announced the launch of a new immunization station at the Jack Crippen Senior Center, located at 3120 Tyler Ave.
Depending on the availability of the restricted vaccine supply, up to 100 residents can be vaccinated at the new location on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., according to Solis’ office.
To be vaccinated, residents must have pre-registered and have received a verification text.
Solis also emphasized that, as with all monkeypox vaccination sites, operations may be halted based on vaccine supply.
“While we work with the federal government to increase the supply of the monkeypox vaccine for Los Angeles County residents, setting up pop-up vaccination clinics in communities such as El Monte is critical to ensuring our available vaccines are distributed equitably. With the launch of the monkeypox vaccination site at Jack Crippen Senior Center, the county is building a vaccination network that will be accessible to residents of color to provide as many doses as possible.”
According to the county Department of Public Health, the county had expected to get 14,000 vials of vaccine — enough to provide 70,000 shots — this week, but received information from the federal government that it would only receive 5,600 vials, enough to administer 28,000 doses.
A statement from the agency read:
“Public Health has received assurances from the federal leadership that additional doses will be available in the coming weeks.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, stated Wednesday that he and ten other members of the Southern California Congressional delegation have written to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, emphasizing the “urgent” need to solve the area’s gap.
The legislator wrote:
“We are encouraged by the Biden administration’s recent actions declaring monkeypox a public health emergency and issuing an emergency use authorization to help expand JYNNEOS vaccine supply. While these are critical steps in the public health response to MPV, we strongly urge the Department of Health and Human Services, in coordination with the White House, to take further steps to procure and distribute additional JYNNEOS vaccine doses to ensure areas that have been hardest hit, including Los Angeles, have adequate vaccine supply.”
Despite the lower-than-expected allotment, the county will still begin providing second doses of the vaccine to approximately 8,000 persons who are eligible. The second dosage will be offered to those who received their first dose at least 28 days ago, with the shots available either through a personal health care practitioner or through the county’s registration system, if the initial dose was received through the county.
Another 19,000 pills will be provided as initial doses from the weekly allocation to community physicians and public immunization venues. In addition, 1,000 pills will be reserved for existing patients’ close contacts, outbreak control, and special populations at high risk of infection.
This week, the county switched to a newly approved way of providing smaller doses of the monkeypox vaccination, resulting in a fivefold increase in local shot availability.
The US Food and Drug Administration last Thursday approved the JYNNEOS vaccine for administration between layers of skin, a procedure known as an intradermal injection. Previously, the vaccination was administered through a subcutaneous injection beneath the skin. According to officials, the intradermal approach takes around one-fifth the amount of vaccination required by the subcutaneous injection.
The modification is intended to stretch the vaccine’s limited supply across the country, allowing lower doses to be administered to more people.
The county’s formerly convoluted procedure for assessing who is eligible for a monkeypox vaccine has been streamlined. The shots are now available to any gay, bisexual, or transgender man or woman over the age of 18 who has had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the past 14 days.
Davis announced on Thursday that the county would also extend eligibility to anyone under the age of 18 who are “found to be at high risk of monkeypox infection.”
Minors must have parental or guardian permission to be vaccinated. Those aged 16 or 17 should be accompanied by a parent or guardian to a vaccination facility, if possible, otherwise they can simply produce a signed consent form. Those under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, as well as a signed consent form, according to Davis.
Minors under the age of 18 are not eligible for the intradermal injection, so they must receive the full subcutaneous dosage, according to the requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorisation for the shots.
People who were previously eligible under the county’s previous rules will still be able to get the vaccinations.
Previous recommendations made shots available to those who had high- or immediate-risk contact with a known monkeypox patient, as well as people who attended an event or visited a venue where there was a high risk of exposure to a confirmed case.
Shots were also made accessible to gay and bisexual males, as well as transgender people, who had just been diagnosed with rectal gonorrhea or early syphilis. Gay or bisexual men or transgender people who are on HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, or who attended or worked at a commercial sex venue or other venue where they had anonymous sex or sex with multiple partners in the previous 21 days — such as a sauna, bathhouse, or sex club — are also eligible for the shots.
Residents who meet the eligibility requirements can sign up online at ph.lacounty.gov/monkeypoxsignup to be notified when a vaccination dosage becomes available.
The county had identified 1,036 confirmed or probable cases of monkeypox as of Thursday, including those in Long Beach and Pasadena, both of which have their own health departments, up from 738 the previous Thursday. Almost all of the instances involve men, the vast majority of whom are gay or bisexual.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, monkeypox is generally spread through intimate skin-to-skin contact caused by infectious rashes and scabs, but respiratory secretions and bodily fluids exchanged during extended physical episodes, such as sexual intercourse, can also lead to transmission. It can also be spread through the sharing of personal things such as bedding and towels.
Fresh pimples, blisters, rashes, fever, and weariness are all symptoms. There is no particular treatment. People who have had smallpox or have been immunized against it may be immune to monkeypox.
According to health officials, if given before or shortly after exposure to the virus, the vaccination can prevent infection.
More information can be found at ph.lacounty.gov/monkeypox.