Suffolk County has received 1,750 additional monkeypox vaccine doses to distribute next week after getting new batches from New York State, officials announced Friday.
Also Friday, federal health officials announced that New York State, with the highest number of monkeypox cases in the United States, will get a proportionally large share of the 131,000 monkeypox vaccine doses that have just arrived and are being distributed to states.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said it also had ordered another 2.5 million doses of Bavarian Nordic’s JYNNEOS vaccine that will be delivered over the next year by mid-2023.
Monkeypox is a rare disease spread by close and prolonged contact with people infected with the virus.
It does not usually cause serious illness, although infections in some cases can result in hospitalization or death, according to the New York State Health Department.
In Suffolk, health officials began administering the monkeypox vaccine on Thursday in Cherry Grove on Fire Island. The clinic will remain open until Sunday.
A pop-up clinic in Fire Island Pines opened Friday and will stay open through Saturday.
"Our goal here is to contain the spread and make sure this is not something that goes further and is contained," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said at a news conferenceat the Sayville Ferry Service.
State officials have allocated a significant number of the first batches of vaccine to Suffolk County because of concern about the spread in Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines.
The state is reserving the first monkeypox inoculations for individuals with heightened risk of exposure.
According to state Health Department guidelines, those at elevated risk of exposure include members of the gay, bisexual, transgender and gender-nonconforming communities.
Also at higher risk are men who have had sex with men or engaged in intimate or skin-to-skin contact with people in the past two weeks in communities where monkeypox is spreading.
Suffolk received 500 monkeypox vaccine doses to be distributed as first shots next week, Bellone said.
Another 1,250 vials will be distributed as second doses for those who got shots during the past week or receive them this weekend.
New York State overall has had 490 cases, up from 414 on Thursday, HHS officials said Friday.
Suffolk County had four reported cases and Nassau County three as of Friday.
New York City’s 461 reported cases, according to the CDC, eclipsed the number reported by any other state.
Noting the 131,000 doses going out nationwide, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters Friday: "We’re going to be allocating based on cases pretty heavily in the next round, and so I anticipate that there will be a lot more supply for New York City.”
“We anticipate an increase in cases in the coming weeks,” Walensky said.
Bellone said pop-up clinics will open elsewhere in Suffolk, including one at the Northwell Health Community Center at Westfield Mall in Bay Shore that will open Wednesday.
Also, Suffolk County is partnering with Stony Brook University Hospital at the Edie Windsor Health Care Center in Hampton Bays to provide 250 appointments on Monday from noon to 7 p.m., and next Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Nassau County spokesman Chris Boyle said Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow has given 37 vaccines and will offer another clinic Saturday. To make an appointment, call 516-486-6862 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Northwell Health will offer vaccines at its facility at 1 Marcus Ave. in New Hyde Park on Monday, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., Northwell spokesman Jason Molinet said. To make an appointment, register at: https://northwellvaccine.force.com/s/?id=a1T4x000007U02PEAS.
Dr. Annabella Salvador, Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President of Medical Staff Affairs at Northwell Health, called it "important to educate the public regarding this disease."
The vaccine rollout represents "an important step in moving forward to stopping this disease, and it's a sign of hope to stop the spread," Salvador said.
Dr. Todd Griffin, interim vice president for clinical services and vice dean for clinical affairs at Stony Brook University Hospital, said, "While we are not in a monkeypox pandemic, we really need to remain vigilant. We really need to be encouraging vaccinations, and really getting the community out to get vaccinated."
“I want to acknowledge that at this time the demand for vaccines from jurisdictions is higher than our current available supply and we know that this is frustrating,” Walensky said.
Federal health officials rejected the request by New York City Mayor Eric Adams to switch to a one-dose policy to give more people first doses instead holding back supplies for the second shot.
“We do not recommend to go off of the recommended schedule,” said Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
“We do not want people to alter their behavior or thinking they're protected when they're not,” Marks said. “So a single dose of this vaccine will not provide the kind of protection over time that is necessary if people continue risk behavior.”
The first recorded case of a monkeypox infection in humans occurred in 1970, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Before this year's outbreak in the United States and other countries where monkeypox is rare, infections largely were confined to areas of central and western Africa, officials said.
With Tom Brune