Colorado to receive more monkeypox vaccine, but supply is tight

Colorado expects to get about 7,600 doses of a vaccine to prevent monkeypox in the coming days, but it’s not clear when the state might receive enough to reach everyone at high risk.

As of Monday afternoon, Colorado had 155 monkeypox cases, with more than half reported since the start of August. The true number is almost certainly higher, since testing was particularly difficult to find in May and June, and people with milder cases may not seek medical attention for a rash.

The federal Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, which is handling distribution of the Jynneos vaccine, said Colorado will be allocated 18,525 doses. The vaccine was approved for smallpox, but may be effective in preventing monkeypox.

That would only vaccinate a little over 9,000 people because the vaccine was approved based on a two-shot protocol. Colorado and other jurisdictions have paused second shots to stretch supplies, for now.

As of last week, Colorado had ordered 11,285 doses, or about 61% of its allocation, and received 9,665. No state has been able to order more than 68% of its allocation. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday that the remaining doses would be available to order immediately.

So far, the vaccine is available only to men who know they were exposed, have multiple male partners, or had an anonymous partner in the past two weeks. Federal officials have estimated that about 1.5 million people nationwide could be at high risk, requiring 3 million vaccine doses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported about 94% of cases as of July 22 were in men who recently had intimate contact with at least one other man, and another 5% were in other men. A handful of cases have involved women or children.

Brian Spencer, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said 3,525 doses have been given at state-run clinics, and about 3,200 others have gone to providers around the state. The rest are reserved for upcoming clinics, he said.

The United States was caught off-guard when monkeypox began spreading this spring. Previous outbreaks ended quickly, and the Strategic National Stockpile had let millions of doses expire while waiting on a new version of the vaccine that would be less complicated to store and transport. More doses are expected to be ready later this year, but it’s not clear when the country will have enough to fully vaccinate the high-risk population.

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