CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Mecklenburg County Health Department made changes to the way the monkeypox vaccine is given on Thursday. Following the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization last week, the shots can now be given intradermally, or under the skin.
Doctors say the shots are just as effective when given this way, but this change allows providers to get five times as many doses out of each vial, which will be a big help given the high demand for the vaccine.
Plus, the federal government is ramping up its response to the outbreak. Starting on Monday, 1.8 million more doses of vaccine will be made available for states to order. There are just under 200 cases of monkeypox in North Carolina and Mecklenburg County is still the epicenter of the outbreak, with more than 90 of those cases.
The health department is now able to work through the long vaccine waitlist faster. The FDA’s emergency use authorization will increase supplies five-fold. Providers can now give a smaller dose intradermally, just under the top layer of the skin. Until now, the shot was given subcutaneously, like many other vaccines, into the layer of fat between the skin and muscle. The smaller dosage stimulates an immune response because the skin has more immune cells than fatty tissue.
The majority of cases are in men who have sex with other men.
With Charlotte Pride being held in Uptown this weekend, Mecklenburg County Public Health will have a festival booth to educate people on the signs and symptoms of monkeypox, and to educate on how to stay protected. Plus, those who qualify for the vaccine will be able to get it in Uptown near Pride events this weekend.
The federal government has sent 18,000 doses of the monkeypox vaccine to North Carolina so far. North Carolina health officials announced Thursday that 2,000 extra doses are headed to Charlotte to be administered over Pride weekend.
“Being safe, being smart, being educated, getting vaccinated, things like that, that we've grown accustomed to hearing messaging over the last few years, still are important as things are evolving,” Clark Simon, the president of Charlotte Pride, told WCNC Charlotte.
Simon said they’re expecting a record turnout for the events this year. They’re asking those who don’t feel well to stay home.
“I do want to be clear that though the highest pronounced incidences of monkeypox currently are in the men who have sex with men community, this is a community disease,” Simon said. “And if COVID taught us anything, it is that anything like this can impact and will impact everyone.”
Mecklenburg County Public Health officials told WCNC Charlotte the waitlist is ongoing with scheduled appointments and the additional on-site vaccine will offer availability to those attending Charlotte Pride who qualify for the vaccine.