Following a lackluster initial response to monkeypox, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced a new strategy aimed at maximizing the still-limited supply of the Jynneos vaccine.
On Tuesday, the FDA authorized emergency use of the vaccine against the disease, allowing for a single dose to be split into five smaller doses.
“In recent weeks the monkeypox virus has continued to spread at a rate that has made it clear our current vaccine supply will not meet the current demand,” said FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D. in a statement.
“The FDA quickly explored other scientifically appropriate options to facilitate access to the vaccine for all impacted individuals. By increasing the number of available doses, more individuals who want to be vaccinated against monkeypox will now have the opportunity to do so.”
Health officials emphasized that the fractional doses, which will be administered between layers of the skin (intradermally) as opposed to below the skin, provide the same protection against the virus. Two doses, spread four weeks apart, will still be needed.
The FDA also opened up the vaccine supply to people under 18 if they are determined to be at high risk of infection.
The emergency authorization comes after the Biden administration and the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a public health emergency.
President Biden recently named Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, an esteemed infectious disease specialist who has led HIV prevention work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as deputy coordinator of the White House’s monkeypox response.
Daskalakis said that the administration is broadening its focus to reach out to community organizations in rural areas.
The CDC has reported close to 9,500 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the U.S., though the number of actual cases is likely higher. New York State and California account for over 2,100 and over 1,300 of those cases, respectively.