CDC in Favor of Monkeypox Vaccines for Future Outbreaks

The CDC announced on February 22 that independent vaccine advisers have voted in favor of the JYNNEOS vaccine for future outbreaks.

If the CDC concurs with the vote, the two-dose vaccination will be used for individuals at risk during future monkeypox outbreaks. Monkeypox, or mpox, has notably diminished in the United States since its outbreak in August 2022. Compared with approximately 450 new cases daily, there are now only about two new cases per day. Experts said despite the significant fall, two cases a day is still more than in preceding years.

The 18 independent vaccine advisers said: "ACIP recommends the 2-dose Jynneos vaccine series for persons aged 18 years and older at risk of mpox during an mpox outbreak."

The JYNNEOS vaccine was voted in favor in 2021 only for those with vocational exposure risks. The vaccine was given emergency use authorization in August to prevent any greater infections nationwide. Per the CDC, more than 1.18 million JYNNEOS vaccines were issued, and studies revealed that it was approximately 83% effective in outbreaks.

Further research is needed to see the vaccine's efficacy and how it operates in those with health issues or impaired immune systems. The CDC also reported that unvaccinated individuals were 7.4 times more likely to catch mpox than those who received one dose of the vaccine and 9.6 times more likely in fully vaccinated individuals.

Although the CDC didn’t report any severe side effects for the vaccine, some common adverse reactions were injection site redness and fatigue. The CDC continues to recommend people get vaccinated despite the fall in mpox cases.

"We do not think that this outbreak is over, and that’s very important to keep in mind," said the medical officer in the CDC’s Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, Agam K. Rao, M.D. "There’s actually been a re-emergence of human cases after decades of no reported cases in some countries," concluded Rao.

The committee is scheduled to assemble in June to decide if they will recommend the vaccine for those younger than 18. In October, they will continue examining vaccine procedures.

Melinda Wharton, M.D., the CDC Associate Director for Vaccine Policy, concluded: "The recent outbreak has highlighted again the risks that infectious diseases can present to our communities, the importance of a robust public health response at the state and local level, the value of engaged partners and communities in responding to public health threats and the impact that a vaccine can have in helping to bring an outbreak under control."

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox, commonly known as mpox, is caused by a monkeypox virus of the Orthopoxvirus genus in the family Poxviridae. The virus is transmitted through close contact with bodily fluids, blood, or prolonged respiratory discharge. Symptoms are mild compared to smallpox, such as intense headache, fever, lack of energy, and severe skin rash.

The symptoms can last anywhere from two to four weeks. An antiviral agent to treat smallpox has been authorized to treat mpox in the U.S.

Mpox is generally self-treatable with time and care. In the past, the percentage of fatality was around zero to 11%. Recently, however, the number dropped from three to 6%.

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