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U.S. faces vaccine shortage as monkeypox declared a global emergency

Posted at 9:53 AM, Jul 23, 2022

The World Health Organization on Saturday declared the expanding monkeypox outbreak in more than 70 countries to be a global emergency.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., there is a national shortage of the monkeypox vaccine. According to San Luis Obispo County, the JYNNEOS vaccine is allocated to local health departments based on population size with additional doses sent to areas with sizable outbreaks.

Dr. Henning Ansorg, Public Health Officer for Santa Barbara County, told KSBY, “The only supply is in the national stockpile and that was accumulated to avert a bioterrorist attack, basically against smallpox. But this vaccine also works against monkeypox.”

The vaccine is given when someone is exposed to monkeypox, not when they are diagnosed. After getting the virus, the person is immune, according to Dr. Ansorg.

Santa Barbara County received 38 doses of the vaccine, and San Luis Obispo County received 20.

The vaccines were developed for the smallpox stockpile so it will take time to replenish the supply.

According to the California Department of Public Health, there are more than 430 probable and confirmed cases in the state. None have been reported yet on the Central Coast.

Dr. Ansorg made it clear that the monkeypox pandemic differs from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A pandemic means that there are outbreaks in many countries in the world at the same time or shortly following each other,” he explained.

Monkeypox typically begins with flu-like symptoms, followed by a rash. Testing happens when a medical provider suspects a patient has it. They then swab the skin lesions before sending the samples to a lab for testing.

Monkeypox is spread through skin-to-skin contact with someone who has the rash, and it is usually sexual contact.

“There's no reason for alarm. And just the risk to the general population to contract monkeypox is extremely, extremely low,” Dr. Ansorg added.

So far, two people in Santa Barbara County have received the monkeypox vaccine.