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Local News | Aug. 22, 2022

Eligible Airmen, Guardians have access to more monkeypox vaccines

The Department of Defense is increasing its supply of the approved monkeypox vaccine, JYNNEOS, which allows for more Airmen and Guardians at higher risk for transmission to access preventive measures to keep themselves safe.

Concurrently, on Aug. 9, the Food and Drug Administration, allowed for smaller doses to be given through intradermal administration, which is an injection between the layers of the skin.

“By injecting the vaccine just below the skin in the forearm, we can elicit the same antibody response using a smaller dose which increases vaccine availability,” said Lt. Col. David Sayers, Chief, Preventive Medicine, Air Force Medical Readiness Agency. “The goal, as we get access to more vaccines, is to make sure all Airmen and Guardians at risk can get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

The standard monkeypox vaccine is a two-dose vaccine administered 28 days apart and is typically injected subcutaneously, in the fatty tissue over the triceps.

Airmen and Guardians who have previously had the smallpox vaccine need only one dose of the monkeypox vaccine.

As with many other vaccines, there are some side effects.

“As your immune system responds to the vaccine, you may experience fever, fatigue or headache,” said Sayers. “If you receive the vaccine in the forearm, you may have itching, redness or some skin discoloration.”

While DoD has increased its supply and the FDA approved intradermal administration, vaccine distribution continues prioritizing those who are at highest risk, including:

* People who have been contacted by their local public health department as having come in contact with someone with monkeypox

* People who have had close or sexual contact in the past 14 days with an individual with monkeypox

* People who identify as gay, bisexual, transgender, or other men who have sex with men in the past 14 days in an area with monkeypox transmission

Military Treatment Facilities can order small amounts of JYNNEOS vaccine to use for individuals who meet vaccination criteria. Larger orders can be approved with additional justification, such as larger installations having a larger population of those who meet the criteria.

At the time of publication, 36 Department of the Air Force clinics have placed orders. MTFs that received shipments this week include those at Travis Air Force Base, Yokota Air Base, Misawa AB, Robins AFB, and Dyess AFB.

There are currently more than 14,100 U.S. monkeypox cases. While anyone could potentially be at risk, the current outbreak is concentrated among men who have close, intimate contact with other men.

“This current monkeypox outbreak is evolving and we are learning new information about the spread and risks,” said Sayers. “It is important that Airmen and Guardians who feel they might be at high risk speak with their health care provider. Just know that Air Force clinics have the most recent information and guidance to keep our members safe and healthy.”

More information about monkeypox can be found here.

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