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Monkeypox vaccine distribution focuses limited supply on those most at risk of infection

Published on 25 Jul 2022 in Press Room

HONOLULU – The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) will open monkeypox vaccination appointments this week to Hawaii residents at higher risk of monkeypox infection or serious illness.

Beginning Wednesday, July 27, Hawaiian residents 18 and older currently eligible for a JYNNEOS vaccine, which is used to prevent monkeypox, will include:

  • People who have been exposed to people with confirmed orthopoxvirus/monkeypox in the last 14 days
  • Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men and transgender people in high-risk intimate contact in venues (on-site sex events, bathhouses, sex clubs) or areas where monkeypox occurs has spread in the last 14 days

To date, Hawaii has received 1,400 doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine. The DOH has received its allocation from the National Strategic Stockpile and will continue to receive allocations as supply becomes available. Demand is expected to exceed Hawaii’s extremely limited supply.

“We continue to work on equitable distribution of the monkeypox vaccine,” said Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Nathan Tan. “We thank the community for their patience as we vaccinate those most at risk of infection or serious illness, and thank our partners for stepping up vaccine delivery in the community.”

The DOH distributes vaccines to health care providers in each county who directly reach those at higher risk of exposure to monkeypox. Beginning Wednesday, July 27, individuals in any of the above groups should call the DOH at 808-586-4462 for an appointment.. The phone line is available Monday through Friday from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Callers outside normal business hours can leave a voicemail message. Appointment booking is currently not available with individual providers.

While JYNNEOS is approved as a two-dose series, the DOH and its vaccine partners are prioritizing early doses to reach as many people as possible. The first dose is effective as post-exposure prophylaxis, which can help prevent infections. The DOH and its partners will notify the community when there is sufficient supply to schedule appointments for the second dose. This approach aims to deploy Hawaii’s limited vaccine supply to those most likely to be exposed in order to mitigate the spread, while the DOH anticipates additional vaccine availability in the coming weeks and months.

JYNNEOS is FDA approved for the prevention of monkeypox in adults. However, since no vaccine is 100% effective, it is important that individuals reduce their risk of potential exposure to monkeypox before and after receiving a dose of JYNNEOS.

Monkeypox is transmitted primarily through close, intimate contact with bodily fluids, lesion material, or objects used by someone with monkeypox. Monkeypox can be spread by large respiratory droplets. These droplets generally cannot travel more than a few feet, so prolonged face-to-face contact is required.

People with symptoms of monkeypox, including flu-like symptoms, swollen lymph nodes, or new or unexplained rashes or sores, should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Nationally, the current cases are spreading primarily among social networks of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. In Hawaiʻi, at least some of the cases have been reported in gay or bisexual men. However, anyone in close contact with someone with monkeypox is at risk of infection, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

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PDF: Monkeypox vaccine distribution focuses limited supply on those most at risk of infection

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