All 100 appointments for monkeypox vaccinations were sold out on Thursday as patients arrived at Bergen New Bridge Medical Center from Old Bridge, Hillside, South and East Brunswick and Teaneck for injections.
New Jersey’s limited supply of monkeypox vaccine, taken from the country’s strategic national stockpile, has not kept up with demand. Even with strict eligibility criteria, appointments are filled within minutes of being announced.
The governor’s request last week for an increase in the state’s vaccine allocation to the Biden administration remains unanswered, a health department spokeswoman said. The state has received around 5,500 doses so far, with another 14,520 expected in the coming weeks.
Related:Biden administration declares monkeypox a public health emergency
“We have a lot of people calling us saying, ‘Why can’t I get vaccinated? said Raymond Welsh, director of Buddies of New Jersey, a nonprofit organization serving the HIV community. He received a vaccine on Friday at Paramus.
“These are people who want to take care of their health. It’s almost impossible for them to do that,” he said.
The state has identified 188 confirmed or probable cases in the past six weeks, according to the state health department. Four northern New Jersey counties account for about three-quarters of the patients: 63 in Hudson, 39 in Essex, 24 in Bergen and 12 in Passaic.
New York City accounts for about a quarter of U.S. cases, with 1,630 people diagnosed as of Thursday.
The state’s proximity to New York, the epicenter of the outbreak, should qualify it for more doses, Governor Phil Murphy and Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli wrote to the Health and Human Services Secretary this week. last. The COVID pandemic has illustrated how interconnected New York and New Jersey are when it comes to infectious diseases, they wrote.
Bergen New Bridge is one of five sites administering the vaccine, with others located in Jersey City, Newark, Asbury Park and Camden.
“We don’t even need to make an announcement,” said Kathy O’Brien of the Hyacinth AIDS Foundation, whose Living Out Loud project in Jersey City has held immunization days for the past two Saturdays. “People are trying to get us by all means.”
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At the Prevention Resource Network in Asbury Park, a recording informs callers that all vaccines are scheduled and counted. The network’s waiting list is no longer maintained because “we don’t know if we will receive additional doses”.
After:As cases rise, NJ seeks more monkeypox vaccine
After:NJ Mom and Daughter Exposed to Monkeypox, Here’s What Happened Next
The Biden administration declared monkeypox a public health emergency on Thursday. Murphy did not for New Jersey, but the governors of New York, California and Illinois have also declared it a public health emergency. “Based on the current circumstances, the Governor does not believe that a declaration of a public health emergency is necessary to combat the spread of monkeypox in New Jersey at this time,” said Nancy Kearney, spokeswoman for the health department. “However, the governor continues to monitor the situation and consult with the department daily to determine what additional actions are needed.”
As the patients drove to the Paramus site on Thursday morning, they expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to be vaccinated. Many drove over an hour to their appointments. “I called three places, and they had no appointments available,” said Michael Ruggiero of Old Bridge.
Who can get monkeypox?
Anyone can get monkeypox if they come in close contact with someone known to have the disease. It is spread through skin-to-skin contact with the blister rash that is the main symptom of monkeypox, or with bedding, towels, or clothing that has touched the lesions. Other symptoms include fever, malaise, and swollen lymph nodes.
A person remains contagious until the sores have healed and new skin has formed, a process that usually takes two to four weeks. Isolation is recommended during this time.
So far, the vast majority of cases in the outbreak have been found in men who have sex with men, according to federal health officials. For this community, a previous generation’s experience with HIV and AIDS led to the establishment of networks for the dissemination of public health information and an openness to preventive health measures.
What we know about monkeypox
“No one is hesitant to vaccinate,” said Debra Visconi, CEO of Bergen New Bridge, as she surveyed the annex where vaccines were administered on Thursday.
The epidemic has spread globally since the spring. The United States has reported 6,617 cases since the first patient was diagnosed in mid-May. Experts say that number likely represents a huge undercount because testing was initially scarce and many clinicians are unaware of the disease.
New Jersey residents eligible to receive the preventative vaccine at mass vaccination sites across the state include people who attended an event where there were known exposures to monkeypox within the past two weeks, and people who identify as gay, bisexual, or men who have sex with men, or transgender or non-binary gender who have had multiple or anonymous sexual partners in the past two weeks.
Also, anyone who has been exposed to someone diagnosed with monkeypox should call their county’s public health department to get vaccinated. The JYNNEOS vaccine is thought to prevent or reduce the severity of monkeypox if given soon after known exposure.