So far 367 people in New Jersey have tested positive for monkeypox, according to an update Wednesday from the state Department of Health that puts the Garden State in the top ten nationally.
Vaccine supply remains limited, but officials hope a change in how shots are administered makes them more accessible.
The state is working in conjunction with the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local health departments, to quickly identify monkeypox cases and potential contacts, provide treatment and vaccine, and further prevent the spread of the disease.
CDC is working with health officials to monitor probable and confirmed cases all over the world and throughout the country, but it is imperative that suspected cases be reported immediately.
Health officials are now advising doctors to inject the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine between adult patients’ skin layers instead of underneath them.
The ‘intradermal injection’ can be done using less vaccine than ‘subcutaneous,’ so doctors can get more doses out of one vial, according to medical experts.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently granted emergency authorization for this change in delivery after research showed it’s effective.
“Converting and providing the vaccines intradermally is a game changer, what it essentially does is that increases the vaccine supply five-fold just by doing that conversion,” said Choe, who added health officials are educating providers around the state about how to administer the vaccines in this way.
Several clusters of monkeypox have been reported starting in May 2022 in several countries that don’t normally report monkeypox, including in the U.S.
Most confirmed cases with travel history reported travel to countries in Europe and North America, rather than West or Central Africa where the monkeypox virus is endemic. This is the first time that many monkeypox cases and clusters have been reported concurrently in non-endemic and endemic countries in widely disparate geographical areas.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported 27,814 laboratory-confirmed cases of monkeypox and 11 deaths as of August 7, 2022.
Monkeypox can spread to any individual from anyone who has the virus through direct contact with rashes, scabs; respiratory droplets from face-to-face interactions; or close, intimate contact.
Most reported cases so far have been identified through sexual health or other health services in primary or secondary health-care facilities and have involved mainly, but not exclusively, men who have sex with men.
Healthcare providers should be alert for patients who have rash illnesses consistent with monkeypox, regardless of whether they have travel or specific risk factors for monkeypox and regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
Of the more than 12,689 cases in the United States as of August 17, 2022, most are reported among men who have sex with men, a group that includes people who identify as gay, bisexual, transgender and nonbinary.
Just over half of those people who tested positive for the monkeypox virus are also living with HIV, but officials warn that anyone can contract the disease if exposed to it.
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Shots are still limited to those at the highest risk for infection including people who have been exposed to monkeypox, men who have sex with men who are also positive for HIV or had a recent diagnosis of sexually-transmitted infection, or health and laboratory workers who may come in close contact with the virus.
The CDC recommends a vaccination called JYNNEOS for people who have been exposed to monkeypox and people who may be more likely to come in contact with a caarrier.
With the current limited supply of JYNNEOS vaccine in New Jersey, the following residents may be eligible for vaccination:
- People who have known contact with someone who tested positive for orthopoxvirus or monkeypox virus within the past 14 days (PEP or post-exposure prophylaxis means taking medicine to prevent the disease after possible exposure).
- People who attended an event where known monkeypox exposure occurred within the past 14 days.
- People who had multiple sexual partners in the past 14 days in areas where monkeypox has been reported.
Expanded PEP vaccination efforts prioritize disproportionally affected groups, which may change over time. This currently includes gay and bisexual men, and other men who have sex with men.
Vaccination is done by appointment only and information on the expanded PEP program is available through these community partners:
Bergen New Bridge Medical Center
Cooper Vaccine Clinic, Cooper University Hospital
Location: 300 Broadway, Camden
Hyacinth AIDS Foundation/Project Living Out Loud!
Location: Jersey City
North Hudson Community Action Corporation
North Jersey Community Research Initiative (NJCRI)
Phone: 973-483-3444 ext. 200
Passaic County Health Department
The Prevention Resource Network, a program of the Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey
Location: Asbury Park
Zufall Health Center