More monkeypox vaccine appointments available in New York City, but still not enough

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ByDan Krauth via WABC logo
Saturday, July 23, 2022
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New York City is making more than17,000 new monkeypox vaccination appointments available, but city leaders say it's still not nearly enough. Dan Krauth has the story.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City made more than 17,000 new monkeypox vaccination appointments available Friday, but city leaders say it's still not nearly enough to meet the demand.

The appointments were made available beginning at 6 p.m. on the city's website, but were expected to be snatched up in minutes.

The last time appointments were made available, all 9,200 of them were gone within seven minutes.

"I know people who have gone to Canada to get vaccinated, and that's embarrassing," said City Councilman Erik Bottcher, who represents the district that includes a majority of the confirmed cases in New York City. "People are being told you should get vaccinated because you meet the following criteria, yet the vaccines aren't here. That's creating this atmosphere of fear, frustration and anger."

So far, 21,500 people in New York City have received the first dose of the vaccine or have an appointment to get vaccinated.

New York state could expect the vast majority of 760,000 doses of the vaccine to arrive next week, but they may come with restrictions.

Most of those are first dose appointments, and two doses are needed at least four weeks apart to be fully vaccinated.

The city is prioritizing getting first doses into people's arms instead of holding back and reserving doses for the second shot.

"If we don't get out there and get shots in arms, there's a possibility that this disease might be with us for a very long time," Bottcher said.

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At first, the city had trouble getting people signed up for the vaccines it did have.

The city used two different contractors to book online appointments, and both of their websites crashed or had glitches.

City leaders said they've worked out the online problems by moving the appointments to its primary vaccine website, which can handle the demand.

For now, the limited vaccine is available only to those who have been exposed to monkeypox and for men who are sexually active with other men.

"It would've been good to get a lot more vaccines available early on, but right now, we have accelerated that extensively," Dr. Anthony Fauci said this week.

The city has more cases than anywhere else in the country, but the federal government hasn't delivered the doses needed.

"Give us more vaccinations right now," Bottcher said. "Not this weekend, not tomorrow. Today."

Monkeypox cases are increasing at an alarming rate.

The city had 336 confirmed cases as of last Wednesday, and one week later, cases more than doubled to 839 as of Friday. And those are just the cases that are known.

PhD student Kyle Planck specializes in infectious diseases and was diagnosed with the virus earlier this month.

"Going from having a really high fever and all of that directly into having really intense pain was pretty terrible," he said.

He developed about 30 blisters and spots all over his body and is finally starting to feel better three weeks later.

"The pain was so bad I was taking Epsom salt baths six or seven times a day," he said. "Just because being in the warm water was basically the only thing that would make me feel better."

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Anyone can get and spread monkeypox, though the current cases are primarily spreading among social networks of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, so this community is currently at greater risk of exposure.

If you have a new or unexpected rash or other symptoms of monkeypox, contact a health care provider.

Monkeypox is harder to contract than COVID, as it requires close contact or the sharing of bodily fluid.

The symptoms of the rare virus include fever and rash, muscle aches, and chills.

Worldwide, monkeypox is deadly in between 3% to 6% of cases, though the death rate is less than 1% in areas with quality healthcare.

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