North Carolina waits for additional Monkeypox vaccines

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) — As Monkeypox continues to spread in the U.S., states leading the list with high case rates are more likely to get help first as the Biden-Harris Administration aims to expand vaccination for individuals at risk and make testing easier.

As of Wednesday, the CDC reports more than 300 confirmed cases of Monkeypox, including two in North Carolina.

The U.S. plans to send nearly 300,000 doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine in the coming weeks.

The NC Department of Health and Human Services said they’re waiting for more information on the federal vaccine allocation to North Carolina, but expect the initial allocation to be small, as it’s intended for people who have had a known or suspected exposure to Monkeypox in the past two weeks.

“It’s actually quite useful as a preventative or as a post exposure treatment for folks who have been exposed,” Duke Health’s Cameron Wolfe said.

Wolfe, who’s an infectious disease specialist, said the plan to scale and deliver vaccines is helpful, compared to where we were two years ago during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It will be able to forward deploy lots of these vaccines into each state,” Wolfe said. “How they then get distributed and to whom, is exactly the discussion.”

Treatments are available in North Carolina for those who have a confirmed case of Monkeypox but generally, most cases resolve on their own, according to state epidemiologist Zack Moore.

Public health agencies can also access the ACAM2000 vaccine, which is FDA-approved for protection against smallpox, but the state warns it’s not recommended for everyone.

“They’re both very effective but the catch with the ACAM2000 is that, because it’s a living virus, some people actually can get more significant reactions and side effects to it,” Wolfe said. “And again, because it’s a living vaccine, it’s not appropriate for everyone.”

NCDHHS said ACAM2000 cannot be provided to individuals who are immunocompromised or who have heart disease.

The CDC said they’ll work with state, territorial and local health departments requesting the ACAM2000 vaccine to ensure that individuals are fully informed on the benefits and the risks before receiving the vaccine.

“These vaccines are more for as a preventative,” Wolfe said. “Either because you know you’ve had high risk exposure to someone who is positive, and you’re trying to prevent that virus waking up in you. Or as a pre-exposure prophylaxis, let’s say someone who knows that they’re about to have contact, or a health care worker, or someone who knows they have risk factors, it can be preventative in that situation.”

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