On Thursday, New York City began offering monkeypox vaccinations to at-risk groups as authorities work to contain a global outbreak.
However, demand was so high that the city had to cut off walk-in appointments within hours of launching the program, and scheduled visits were already booked through early next week.
In contrast to the early days of COVID, when there was no effective treatment, there are now several vaccines available that work against the orthopoxvirus that causes the disease. The issue is one of supply.
Since early May, 30 people in the city have tested positive for the virus, almost all of them men who have sex with men, and the number of cases has increased by 60% in just the last week. In total, New York City accounts for more than 20% of all cases diagnosed nationwide.
The decision to make the vaccine available follows similar efforts in cities such as Montreal and Toronto.
The city announced on Thursday the opening of a temporary clinic to administer the two-dose JYNNEOS vaccine to eligible people who may have recently been exposed to monkeypox.
The vaccinations will be provided out at the Chelsea Sexual Health Clinic (303 Ninth Avenue in Manhattan). Moving forward, the clinic will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays.
However, just three hours after opening its doors, at 2 p.m. Thursday, the city announced that no more walk-ins would be accepted and that all appointments had been filled through Monday. At the time, more than 100 people were lined up outside the clinic, according to News 4.
The health department advised people to return on Sunday for more appointments the following week.
The Manhattan borough president, Mark Levine, tweeted that the city had only received about 1,000 doses of the vaccine from the national stockpile.
How Can You Get Monkeypox?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new monkeypox guidelines last week as the number of suspected cases increased across the country, marking America’s largest-ever outbreak of the disease, which has previously been limited to other continents.
While the risk to the general public remains low, the CDC advises people to avoid close contact with sick people, including those with skin or genital lesions, as well as sick or dead animals. Anyone experiencing symptoms such as an unexplained skin rash or lesions should seek medical attention.
It is also advised to avoid eating wild game meat or using products (such as creams, powders, or lotions) derived from African wild animals.
What Exactly Is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox was named after outbreaks of the disease that occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research in 1958. (Monkeypox: What You Need to Know.)
The first human case was reported in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the majority of infections still occur. Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, and Sierra Leone are among the other African countries where it has been discovered.
According to the CDC, human symptoms of monkeypox are similar to but milder than those of smallpox. It appears as a flu-like illness with lymph node swelling and a rash on the face and body.
The symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, and exhaustion. Monkeypox also causes lymph node swelling, which smallpox does not. The incubation period is usually 7-14 days, but it can be as short as 5-21 days.
The CDC is urging healthcare providers in the United States to be on the lookout for patients who have rashes that resemble monkeypox, regardless of whether they have traveled or are at risk for monkeypox. More information from the travel advisory can be found here.