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The US Food and Drug administration announced on Tuesday that Monkeypox vaccines could now be administered to an expanded age group so the country could better handle the epidemic that has now been declared the highest level by the World Health Organization.
According to the announcement, children who are at high risk of the virus, are authorized to receive the vaccine. Dr. Peter Marks, the head of the vaccine division at the FDA, said that children are now becoming more exposed to Monkeypox in the recent weeks.
Adults may receive the vaccine shots through intradermal injection, meaning the administration of the vaccine between the layers of the skin. This new directive has paved way for the increase in the supply of vaccines by five times. Before, Monkeypox vaccines were given through subcutaneous injection, where it requires more dosage since it is injected beneath the skin.
Robert Fenton, the monkeypox response coordinator in the White House, said that intradermal injections require only a small dosage of the vaccines. According to assessments and calculations, 400,000 vials of vaccines that are supposed to be done through subcutaneous injection equates to around 2 million shots of the vaccine administered via intradermal injection.
However, children would only be limited to the subcutaneous injection as more study needs to be done before the FDA and the White House response team authorizes intradermal injections to individuals of lower age. According to Fenton, the process is more difficult to be done to children than adults.
Who manufactures the vaccines
The FDA has only approved one brand of Monkeypox vaccine – the Jynneos, which is manufactured by Bavarian Nordic. The company is a biotech company that is based in Denmark.
Biden has previously made arrangements with Bavarian Nordic to increase the supply of Monkeypox vaccines in the US following reports from health agencies and hospitals of longer queues brought by low number of vials of Jynneos. More vaccine shots are on their way, announces Bavarian Nordic and more will come by next year, if the FDA approves of the shipment.
While this is so, Dr. Robert Calliff, the Commissioner of the FDA, said that experts could not tell for sure how well the vaccine fends off the Monkeypox virus as there has been no smallpox cases recently recorded in the country, as well as Monkeypox outbreak in past. In 2019, Bavarian Nordic received the go signal of the FDA only basing on the immune response data.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that it would conduct studies and observations to measure the effectivity of the vaccine in the real-world setup. Dr. Rochelle Walensky from the CDC assured that as the vaccine are administered so will their study progress.
More monkeypox cases recorded, supply is still low
The outbreak has spread across countries, and more are recorded every day. As this goes on, many are seeking to be administered the vaccine shots; and the supply is running out. With only Bavarian Nordic as the source of the vaccines, the government is having a hard time easing the mood of health professionals and citizens on the supply issue.
The CDC has long confirmed the cases of Monkeypox in 49 countries in the US, including Washington D.D., and Puerto Rico. The Monkeypox outbreak has been declared a public health emergency by the Health and Human Services just last week.
Though Monkeypox does not cause a lot of deaths among patients but many patients are seeking hospitalization because of the lesions they develop which could extremely painful. No deaths have been recorded in the US so far, however, there are already 9,000 confirmed cases of Monkeypox, the WHO reports.
Monkeypox mainly spreads through skin-to-skin contact, especially during sex. Public health officials also warn citizens not to frequent crowded areas as the virus could also be passed through close physical contact like hugging and kissing.
About 98% of the cases reported come from gay and bisexual men, but Monkeypox is not gender-selective, clarifies health experts. There is a high chance that the virus will spread to a wider demographic if it’s not addressed soon.
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