ALBANY, NY (WNY News Now) – The first confirmed youth case of Monkeypox has been detected in New York State, this as health officials are altering their vaccination plan in an attempt to get ahead of the outbreak.
“We now have the distinction as a country of having the largest number of cases in the world. Within the United States, as the Governor has just said, New York State has the most cases and the vast majority of them, over ninety percent are identified in New York City,” says New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Basset.
At the end of July, Governor Kathy Hochul declared a State of Emergency due to the increasing rate of Monkeypox.
“A principle challenge that we’ve had with Monkeypox has been a shortage of vaccination doses as all of you have heard repeatedly. But recently, the Federal Drug Administration has issued another emergency use authorization for a dose-sparing strategy which means that we will be administering just one fifth a dose that was previously a single-dose. Administering it through a different route called intradermal as opposed to subcutaneous,” explains Basset.
State health officials hope to complete the transition of vaccine administration by August 29, as well as making case data publicly available.
As of today, there are currently 2,800 cases statewide, with one reported transmission to a child. Though most cases are spread between men having sex, it is also possible to transmit the virus through close skin-to-skin contact.
“We also are making publicly available the demographics of people who are diagnosed with Monkeypox. Including age and race, ethnicity,” says Basset. “And we just last week began posting as to New York City, the information on people who had been vaccinated. These data show that we are right to be very concerned about equity and access to vaccination.”
The state has been working with the AIDS Institute to utilize community groups to combat the low access of vaccinations to black men.
“There are three parts of this current outbreak that have made it unusual and concerning. One is that we’re seeing Monkeypox transmitted outside of the areas where it had been endemic in Central and West Africa. Two, we’re seeing its clinical presentation in ways that aren’t classical. And third, the transmission of Monkeypox is occurring overwhelmingly among men who identify as gay, bisexual, or as men who have sex with men,” says Basset.
While Monkeypox is rarely fatal, experts say it is extremely painful. Doctors say being honest about your health status and monitoring for symptoms is pivotal in keeping those around you safe. Those who think they might have the disease can only be tested after they have developed a rash-like symptom.