Santa Clara Co. now administering up to 5x more monkeypox vaccines with new injection method

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Saturday, August 20, 2022
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Santa Clara County is now administering up to 5 times more monkeypox vaccines with a new intradermal injection method.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- A Bay Area county is now vaccinating more people who are at the highest risk of getting monkeypox.

Health officials in Santa Clara County say it's because of changes in rules by the Food and Drug Administration that will allow them to stretch out their supply.

Victor Avalos made his way to the Santa Clara County fairgrounds Friday morning after hearing through a friend that vaccine appointments were now available.

"As soon as he told me, I said 'I'm gonna get it right away,'" Avalos said.

Santa Clara County says it's been able to expand appointments to people like Avalos because of a new method.

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Before, the vaccines were injected subcutaneously, or under the skin. Now they're being injected intradermally, just under the top layer of skin.

County health experts say this method helps stretch the vaccine supply.

"Only 1/5 as much of the dose is used for that intradermal injection compared to the full dose that was used before," said Dr. Jennifer Tong, associate chief medical officer Santa Clara Valley Medical Center of Santa Clara County. "This was approved by the FDA based on a study that was done a few years ago."

Tong says the FDA study showed the immune response was just as strong with the new administration method.

"The scientific thought behind that is that the skin itself has a lot of immune cells," she said, "So the skin is well prepared to create an immune response to the substance in the vaccine."

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Instead of the injection site being near the shoulder area of the arm, the shot goes into the inside area of the forearm.

After receiving his shot, Avalos said the vaccine didn't hurt any more or less than a typical vaccine but added that it was a slightly different experience.

"Different in the fact that my skin was being pulled a little bit and then you see the effect of the vaccine" he said, "You see a little bubble."

While the county's focus is on getting as many people to get their first dose of the vaccine until more vaccine supply arrives, Tong says the new intradermal method can also be used as a second dose. That includes those who got their first vaccine injected subcutaneously.

"The CDC has given recommendations on the scenario where a person got the subcutaneous dose for their first dose. When they returned for their second dose, the CDC has recommended that they now get the intradermal injection method," Tong said, "Again, to increase the number of people who we are able to vaccinate."

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Victor Avalos says that getting his first dose was easy and he encourages everyone else at high risk to get theirs.

"My mom passed because of COVID. That makes you think that you better act when these situations happen," he said. "That's why I got it done, and I'm inviting everybody to to get it done."

As for several other Bay Area counties, Alameda says health care providers there are still completing training, and once supplies are available, the vaccine will be administered intradermally.

Contra Costa began the process this week and Marin county has also already been doing it that way.

On Thursday, San Francisco updated its guidance to administer the vaccine intradermally.

RELATED: World Health Organization plans to rename monkeypox over stigmatization concerns

San Mateo County is set to place an order for more vaccines next week and then will administer intradermally.

To find out more about getting a monkeypox vaccine in Santa Clara County, head to vax.sccgov.org.

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