US will set aside monkeypox vaccines in new equity programme

Black Americans have received roughly 10 per cent of doses but have made up about one-third of cases in recent weeks. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - The Biden administration announced a new plan on Tuesday (Aug 30) to send extra doses of monkeypox vaccine to states for use at events or sites that can reach more people of colour and others who have lacked access to shots.

The programme will offer 10,000 vials of vaccine, or as many as 50,000 doses, that can be distributed by local officials to five venues.

Officials said the doses are meant for people who might struggle to find appointments or worry about the stigma of attending public vaccination events.

The announcement served as a reminder that even as cases have decreased in some large cities, the nation's inoculation campaign has lagged in getting vaccines to people who might be especially vulnerable to infection.

The disease has spread primarily among men who have sex with men. A majority of confirmed monkeypox infections in recent weeks have been in Black and Hispanic people, but they have received disproportionately fewer vaccine doses.

Black Americans have received roughly 10 per cent of doses but have made up about one-third of cases in recent weeks.

"The way that you build confidence is by really making vaccine accessible," Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, the White House's deputy monkeypox coordinator, said at a news briefing on Tuesday announcing the project.

"Our next chapter here is not about vaccine hesitance, but about vaccine confidence, and making sure that we build in systems that really improve equity and make sure vaccines are getting not only in arms but in arms of people who really need it."

To qualify for the extra doses, states will need to have used half of the vaccine supply they have received to date, White House officials said.

About 94,000 first doses of the vaccine have been administered to white Americans - more than double the number given to Hispanic people and more than quadruple the number given to Black and Asian people, according to data collected by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

The White House said on Tuesday that it would send additional doses to cities holding events that will likely attract large groups of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, including this weekend's Southern Decadence festival in New Orleans and Atlanta Black Pride.

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