Even as the monkeypox vaccine supply is falling short of the need nationally, Santa Clara County is preparing to offer more appointments for people seeking a dose due to a change in vaccination requirements.
Under new federal guidelines, health care providers can use less of the vaccine for each person, increasing the number of people who can get the shot. The dose can now be one-fifth of the amount compared to the full dose used before, Dr. Jennifer Tong, associate chief medical officer for Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, told San José Spotlight.
The change has allowed the county and other health care providers across the country to stretch their vaccine supply.
“Previously, a single vial of vaccine could be used for only one patient. Now, a single vial of vaccine, we pull it into five different syringes, five different needles (and) those go into five different patients,” Tong said.
For the lower dosage to work properly, Tong said health care workers are now giving people the shots in between the layers of skin on their forearm, instead of under the skin of their upper arm.
There have been 14,115 reported monkeypox infections recorded in the U.S. as of Thursday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection. California accounts for 2,663 of those infections. As of Friday, Santa Clara County has recorded 110 highly suspected or confirmed infections which can cause painful lesions or rashes on the skin.
A portion of the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, long used for COVID-19 vaccination appointments, is now serving as the county’s site for monkeypox vaccines. About 300 to 350 people are being vaccinated daily at the fairgrounds. Tong said thousands of more appointments are expected to become available as more vaccine supply is received in the county.
Like the COVID-19 vaccine, the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine requires two doses, spaced at least 28 days apart, Tong said.
Santa Clara resident Victor Avalos, 57, got his first dose of the monkeypox vaccine on Friday and said others should get it too.
“We need to be proactive rather than reactive,” Avalos told San José Spotlight shortly after receiving his shot. “My mom passed away because of COVID. That makes you think that you better act when these situations happen. That’s why I got it done.”
Although anyone can get monkeypox if they have prolonged skin-on-skin contact with someone who has an infectious monkeypox rash or lesion, the virus is disproportionately being seen in men who have multiple or anonymous male partners, according to county officials.
Getting a vaccine before an exposure or within four to 14 days of an exposure can help prevent becoming infected with the virus, which is also sometimes referred to as MPX and pronounced “em-pox,” according to the county.
Santa Clara County residents are eligible to receive the vaccine if they have had direct physical contact with someone confirmed to have MPX; and men and trans people who have sex with men, who have had more than one sexual partner in the past 14 days. For the complete list of criteria, go to Santa Clara County’s website.
Eligible residents can make a vaccine appointment through Santa Clara County at vax.sccgov.org or through their primary care physicians. Translation services are available at the fairgrounds for residents who speak Spanish, Vietnamese or Chinese, and workers have translation apps to assist with other languages.
Contact Joseph Geha at [email protected] or @josephgeha16 on Twitter.