Bay Area experts explain the effectiveness of FDA's new monkeypox vaccine dosing strategy

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Thursday, August 11, 2022
How effective is FDA's new monkeypox vaccine dosing strategy?
How effective is FDA's new monkeypox vaccine strategy of splitting the doses to increase supply? Here's what Bay Area experts say.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Following the FDA authorizing the monkeypox vaccine to be stretched to increase supply, we are learning what some Bay Area counties are doing to implement this strategy.

Moving forward, the plan is to vaccinate five people with one vial of the monkeypox vaccine, but there are still several challenges. The main one is supply, and now the need for special needles and trained professionals.

"This is going to be a game changer for us. If we really can use five doses per vial instead of one," said Dr. Matt Willis.

Dr. Willis is Marin County's Public Health officer. On Wednesday morning, he was part of call with health officers from across the state.

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"The main topic of that meeting was how this might roll out across the state. We were encouraged to learn that the studies are really reassuring. This is an effective way of administering the vaccine," said Dr. Willis.

In order to squeeze out five monkeypox doses from one vial, medical professionals will need to inject the vaccine differently.

"Literally into the skin layer which has shown for other vaccines to be able to use a reduced dose," said Dr. Monica Gandhi and added, "There are so many immune cells in your skin that will go and present that vaccine to your immune system."

UCSF's infectious disease specialist Dr. Gandhi is seeing firsthand how fast monkeypox infections are happening in San Francisco. She says this strategy to maximize doses will be helpful, but chances are it won't be as protective.

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"We don't know if it will work as well and because of that we have to do a study and I wouldn't give it to people with advanced HIV or other immunosuppression," said Dr. Gandhi and added, "You reduce the severity of disease. Maybe people will get fewer lesions. Maybe they will get it and not have so much pain."

Dr. Gandhi believes this is better than nothing.

"It's partial immunity to a large group of people. That is our best chance to contain the spread of monkeypox," said Dr. Gandhi.

As of now, San Francisco County and Alameda County's departments of public health said they are awaiting federal and state guidance to use this strategy. Marin County is almost there.

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"It's going to be a few days for when we are able to implement this. We think that in Marin County the earliest that this will be available will be next week," said Dr. Willis.

Marin County is planning to begin training more medical professionals in the coming days for that specific injection technique.

According to Dr. Gandhi, people still need a second dose about 28 days after their first dose.

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