In stark contrast to the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, the United States is struggling to get the monkeypox vaccine to people who are seeking it.
As of Saturday, there were just over 5,000 confirmed cases of the virus, which spreads through skin-to-skin contact. Most cases have been reported amongst men who have multiple same-sex partners. However, despite concerns about the virus spreading, many are reporting a challenging process of getting a vaccine, with concerns about long waits in line and the overall procedure to get one.
According to CNN, one person who did receive the vaccine reported that it took two days and hours of paperwork and waiting in line to get the free vaccine. Complicating matters is the fact that tests are not free, and treatments are difficult.
Still, the Biden-Harris administration is working to try and get things moving more efficiently, with testing capacity increased to 80,000 per week. The administration also reduced the required documentation to prevent additional delays in the treatment known as TPOXX.
Those who meet the requirements first must sign up through an online portal.
Approximately 1.5 million people are eligible for a two-dose vaccine under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that only 338,000 vaccines were shipped out as of Saturday. HHS plans to allocate an additional 786,000 once it receives approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
“Our goal is to stay ahead of this virus and end this outbreak,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.
Another aspect hindering the rollout of the vaccine and information about treatments and testing is the stigmatizing language surrounding the virus. Many early cases of the virus were in gay, bisexual, and additional masculine same-sex relationships.
The language used can make monkeypox sound like a disease that primarily affects the LGBTQ+ communities. Many have compared the language to the HIV/AIDS epidemic that stigmatized gay men.