Some states and jurisdictions are running into early hurdles in their rollout of the U.S. government’s new approach to expanding access and supply of monkeypox vaccines to the most vulnerable Americans, local officials told ABC News, as providers face a big learning curve with the new vaccine. method.
Earlier this month, the Biden administration announced it was launching a new plan to increase the nation’s supply of monkeypox vaccine by shifting the way the vaccine is administered from a traditional subcutaneous injection in the arm to an intradermal injection technique. small and shallower.
The new intradermal technique requires only a portion of a vaccine to be injected. Instead of using one vial per vaccination, the approach produces a total of five vaccinations per vial, according to federal officials. At the time, these officials acknowledged that delivering blows this way would require more technical skill.
Now, several state and local officials from across the country have told ABC News that some of their doctors are scrambling to get all five doses out of the bottle.
“We’ve also heard reports from some of our providers that they’ve only been able to dispense three or four doses per vial,” Nikki Ostergaard, of the Washington State Department of Health, told ABC News.
Health officials in Texas confirmed to ABC News that although some providers have been able to successfully extract five doses from vials, others “can’t get five doses.” In Maryland, a representative for the health department also confirmed hearing anecdotal reports of issues.
The Association of Immunization Managers (AIM) confirmed to ABC News that its executive director, Claire Hannan, has also heard that some doctors are experiencing problems with the extraction process, and so the organization is working to educate health officials to prepare them for the injection process is better.
“The needles that are used make the difference. And AIM hopes that as clinicians become more proficient with the ID technique, this will improve,” an organization representative said in a statement.
The White House Deputy Coordinator of the National Monkeypox Response, Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, told Stat News that his team has “definitely” heard about issues arising from local jurisdictions, adding that there has been a range in the number of doses that doctors can dispense, with most reports. that they are taking three to five doses.
Concerns about intradermal access from local officials
In the weeks after the US government announced the change in vaccination strategy, local officials have had some initial concerns about training health care providers how to administer vaccines with the new technique.
New York State Health Commissioner, Dr. Mary T. Bassett said during a news conference this week with Gov. Kathy Hochul that it’s “not as nice” to get an intradermal injection, as it can cause scarring and is “more painful.”
“They’re more of a complication rather than a serious one, but they’re uncomfortable,” Bassett said.
But officials said that given the ongoing crisis, vaccinating as many people as possible is essential.
“We’ve been struggling with not having enough doses. And our obligation in public health is always to do the best for the most people, and intradermal administration will greatly expand our access to a scarce resource,” Bassett said at the conference. for press.
Hochul noted that this is “a temporary approach until the supply chain challenges are broken,” and when an unlimited number of vaccines become available, the state may consider returning to the original way of administering the vaccines.
In New York City, Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said Wednesday that it will take “a few weeks” for the city to fully transition to an intradermal approach as they educate local clinics on the practice, but the transition is necessary because it is “really being mandated by the federal government.”
“It’s not optional,” Vasan said at a city council meeting. “The federal government has made it clear that we will not get more vaccines until we make the change and so we are making the change.”