March 23, 2023

So far, just over 540,000 vaccine doses of monkey pox have been administered, according to CDC data from 37 states and two cities — a fraction of the more than three million doses needed to fully vaccinate the people the government says are most at risk of contracting the disease.

Criticism of the way federal agencies have handled the vaccine rollout has focused on a few key points of the monkeypox response, including early delays in increasing the national supply of Jynneos, the FDA-approved monkeypox vaccine made by the United States. Danish drugmaker Bavarian Nordic, in part due to the FDA having to approve a manufacturing facility where the vaccines are made.

“We had almost 800,000 bottles [of Jynneos] at the manufacturer’s facility in Denmark, but shipments of these much-needed vaccines to the US have been held up pending an FDA inspection of the facility, even though European regulators had approved it,” said Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Kolo.)

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf defended the decision to formally approve the plant in July before the vaccines could be shipped to the US. level, which caused a lot of difficulties,” he said. “We really felt like we had to do this right, even if it took a little more time.”

Lawmakers also objected to a decision by the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response to use a different system for health departments to order the monkeypox vaccines than was used for Covid-19, which they say caused confusion and delay.

“This came at a time when these challenges are being faced by public health departments and staff who are exhausted and burned out after the last two and a half years of responding to Covid-19,” said Sen. Tina Smith (D-Min.). “Learning a new system in the midst of all this is a real challenge.”

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ASPR Secretary Dawn O’Connell said the decision has been made to use an existing system that can be used to order both treatments and vaccines, while the more familiar Covid-19 ordering system can only be used to order vaccines. .

HELP chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) acknowledged that the slowdown in US cases was an encouraging development, but warned witnesses at the hearing — O’Connell, Calif., CDC director Rochelle Walensky and Biden’s chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci — to to remain vigilant.

“These promising improvements do not excuse the issues I’ve been hearing about from communities, health officials and advocates since the beginning of this outbreak,” Murray said.

“We must continue to focus and improve on outreach and getting information and resources – such as vaccines – for those who need it most and are most at risk, and that must include communities of color that we know do not have fair access. to have vaccines. ” she said.