On the heels of the news that the first American known to be infected with monkeypox (MPV) has died in Texas, the Biden-Harris Administration has announced some new steps to help fight the virus from continuing to spread. The White House is partnering with jurisdictions around the country to improve outreach and availability of vaccines and testing, and they’re helping with upcoming events that bring together large groups of LGBTQ individuals.
Recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data found monkeypox has a disproportionate impact among Black and Latino male populations. The virus is primarily spreading through sexual contact among gay and bisexual men, according to the CDC. About 94% of confirmed cases were associated with sex and nearly all of the patients are men who have sex with men.
The outbreak in the U.S. is disproportionately affecting Black and Hispanic men. About 30% of monkeypox patients are white, 32% are Hispanic and 33% are Black, according to CDC data. Whites make up about 59% of the U.S. population while Hispanics account for 19%, and Black people make up about 13% of Americans.
The White House also announced that the Food and Drug Administration’s Emergency Use Authorization of the JYNNEOS vaccine is making it possible to provide nearly two doses of vaccine to the 1.6 million individuals across the country most at risk of contracting the virus.
Officials are now working closely with state and local governments and health leaders to prepare for upcoming events attracting large numbers of LGBTQ individuals, including Southern Decadence in New Orleans, Louisiana; Atlanta Black Pride in Atlanta, Georgia; and Pridefest in Oakland, California.
The Biden-Harris Administration is providing access to additional vaccines to these jurisdictions as well as additional support on the ground in some cases, including increased access to testing and other prevention resources.
Today the White House also announced a new pilot program to reach populations who are at higher risk of contracting MPV, but may face barriers in accessing the vaccine, such as lack of access to online appointment scheduling. Other impediments to getting people vaccinated can include the stigma that may be associated with attending public vaccine events where it could require disclosure of sexual identity, gender identity, or level of sexual activity.
This equity intervention pilot provides for 10,000 vials of vaccine that health departments can request for use as part of smaller-scale equity interventions. Up to 100 vials per jurisdiction will be made available to be used in up to five equity related interventions.
That includes distribution from community-based clinics that may not have been reached by the current vaccine supply, distribution at smaller events and in venues reaching Black and Latino LGBTQ, and distribution to communities identified locally as a priority based on local epidemiology of MPV.