WASHINGTON, DC — Given the rapid increase in cases, and the very limited supply of vaccines, DC Health has decided that the most urgent priority is providing the first doses of vaccine to high-risk residents. This single dose strategy is consistent with the monkeypox vaccine distribution strategies used in the UK and Canada, as well as New York City. DC Health reports that there are currently 172 cases of monkeypox in the District, representing the highest number of cases per capita in the United States.
This decision is based on the available scientific evidence, the acceleration of the outbreak, the demand for vaccine from the high number of eligible people, and extreme shortages of the JYNNEOS™ Monkeypox vaccine nationally.
This prioritization allowed DC Health to issue more than 5,000 additional invitations on Saturday to high-risk District residents to receive the first dose of the vaccine. This is extremely important because getting more individuals vaccinated with their first shot will help us to contain the virus. Additionally, studies have shown that the monkeypox vaccine is effective for at least six months after the first dose. DC Health is confident that additional vaccine doses will be available when needed for those who have received their first dose.
DC Health will continue to send out invitations to receive the monkeypox vaccine as doses become available. Additionally, we are working with community partners to host targeted pop-up clinics to ensure that we are reaching all eligible populations throughout the city.
Individuals who have already received their first dose of vaccination through DC Health's extended monkeypox post-exposure prophylaxis program (ePEP) will be notified that their second dose vaccination appointment has been temporarily postponed. We will be in touch with these individuals and notify them when they can reschedule their appointments. This strategy is dependent on receiving additional sufficient doses from the federal government. Individuals who have a weakened immune system (caused by something such as HIV infection, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or cancer) will remain eligible to receive a second dose of the monkeypox vaccine and will receive further scheduling details.
Monkeypox vaccinations are confidential and District residents can pre-register for monkeypox vaccination appointments by visiting preventmonkeypox.dc.gov. We will continue to advocate for more vaccine supply so that we may provide first and second doses to all at-risk DC residents.
In partnership with the Washington Blade, DC Health will be participating in a monkeypox townhall event tonight, July 25, from 7:00pm–9:00pm at the Eaton Hotel located at 1201 K St. NW.