BOSTON (State House News Service) — Another 37 cases of monkeypox were confirmed in Massachusetts over the last week and the supply of the vaccine that protects against the virus remains extremely limited here, public health officials said Thursday.
The 37 new cases announced Thursday by the Department of Public Health raise the state's total case count to 317 as of Aug. 31. The United States' first case of monkeypox this year was confirmed in Massachusetts in May and about 19,000 cases have been confirmed nationwide since. DPH said most people fully recover in two to four weeks.
In its weekly update Thursday, DPH said that, "[d]ue to extremely limited national availability of vaccine, the JYNNEOS vaccine in Massachusetts still remains limited at this time" and that vaccination here is being "prioritized for individuals at greatest risk of exposure to someone with monkeypox." Last month, DPH began advising health care providers to administer the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine intradermally -- between layers of the skin rather than into the muscle or fat beneath. That allows what had been a single dose to be split into five, greatly expanding the number of people who could be protected by the current supply of the vaccine.
There were 14 locations across Massachusetts where the JYNNEOS vaccine was available to eligible individuals and 18,085 doses had been administered here as of Aug. 31, DPH said. The federal government said it has allocated 24,171 doses of the vaccine for Massachusetts and it shipped 18,311 of those doses to the Bay State as of Aug. 31.
The monkeypox virus does not spread easily between people, DPH said, and transmission generally occurs through direct skin-to-skin contact with body fluids or monkeypox sores, through physical contact with items that have been contaminated with fluids or sores (like clothing or bedding), and less commonly via respiratory droplets from prolonged face-to-face contact. The agency said people can mitigate their risk by avoiding large gatherings that might have a lot of body contact, like dance parties, and by asking intimate partners about their health.
Written By Colin A. Young/SHNS