Monkeypox in NY: Vaccine will be given in smaller doses

New York City has over 2,700 cases of monkeypox and a limited number of vaccine doses.

That's why city health officials say that over the next week, they will begin administering only one-fifth of the normal monkeypox vaccine dose but using a different method.

"The reason that we can use a smaller dose is because the intradermal administration goes into the skin where we have more immunogenicity of the dose," New York Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett explained. "There are more cells there that are active in the immune response."

The intradermal method was given emergency authorization by the FDA a few weeks ago. An intradermal shot can result in more redness or swelling at the injection site but the goal is to accelerate the release of this vaccine in order to reach eligible New Yorkers more quickly.

"I think everybody would have preferred to stay with subcut (subcutaneous), but that's not the situation that we've been in," Dr. Bassett said. "That has not been our situation from the start. As you all know from the very beginning, our ability to respond to this outbreak has been predicated on a limited vaccine supply."

"New York State is committed to an equitable distribution of vaccine, and eligibility is currently focused on individuals with known or likely exposure in areas with the highest number of cases," the state Health Department website said

New York has reported more than 3,100 cases as of Aug. 22 — most of those are in New York City

Earlier this month, U.S. officials declared the outbreak a public health emergency.

Over the weekend, a minor tested positive for monkeypox – the first person under the age of 18 to test positive for the virus in New York.

For privacy reasons, health officials are not disclosing the condition of the patient but say as of right now, parents do not need to be concerned about the spread of monkeypox in schools.

"We expect that we will see cases diagnosed and children, related to household exposure, related to their personal behavior," Dr. Bassett said. "But I do not see the schools as a place where we are going to have to worry about transmission."

When it comes to New York's schools, Governor Kathy Hochul says the state will be aligning its COVID policy for students with the CDC’s recommendations.

New York City officials already announced this last week for city schools.

Kids will no longer be required to take a COVID test if they have been exposed to the virus and students who test positive only have to remain at home for 5 days.

"Parents it’s a very different year here, it's a very different year, especially if your kids are vaccinated," Governor Hochul said. "We do have test kits, we're trying to just bring down the anxiety associated with sending your children off to school this year."

As the state is loosening its COVID restrictions, Governor Hochul just renewed New York’s COVID state of emergency for another month.

This state of emergency gives Hochul the ability to issue emergency orders without having to go through the normal legislative process, but this state of emergency was put in place back on March 3, 2020.

When asked about this on Monday, Hochul says she wants to get through the first month of school and then will consider ending the state of emergency. 

Monkeypox Symptoms

Monkeypox begins as a rash or sores that can look like pimples or blisters. These bumps can appear all over the body — including your face, hands, feet, mouth, genitals or anus — and can become infected.

The symptoms usually start between a week to two weeks after exposure but may not appear for up to 21 days. The sickness can last from two to four weeks with flu-like symptoms including fever, chills, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, headache, and body aches and pains — like a weaker version of smallpox. 

"If you have a new or unexpected rash or other symptoms of monkeypox, contact a health care provider," the Health Department states. "A person is contagious until all sores have healed, and a new layer of skin has formed, which can take two to four weeks."

How Monkeypox Spreads

In this current outbreak, the monkeypox virus mainly has been spreading during oral, anal and vaginal sex and other intimate contact, such as rimming, hugging, kissing, biting, cuddling and massage, according to the New York City Health Department. However, the virus can also spread through contact with a rash or sores of someone who has the virus; contact with clothing, bedding and other items used by a person with monkeypox; and prolonged face-to-face contact.