July 14, 2022 – Rising demand for the monkeypox vaccine in New York City has caused the city’s appointment system to crash.
Monkeypox-related supplies have been running out as soon as they arrive, according to The Associated Press. City health officials acknowledged the frustration about the limited supply and promised to build a “stable appointment infrastructure” as vaccine supply increases “in the coming weeks.”
“Due to overwhelming traffic, as soon as appointments went online this afternoon, the site delivered error messages for many people who were unable to make appointments,” Ashwin Vasan, MD, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said in a statement on Tuesday.
“This is just further proof that demand is very high, and we will continue working to make vaccine available,” he said. “We will advise New Yorkers when more appointments can be made.”
As of July 13, 336 people in New York City had tested positive for orthopoxvirus, and all cases are likely monkeypox, the department said in a news update. There are likely more cases that haven’t been diagnosed.
Most people with monkeypox haven’t been hospitalized and have recovered on their own, the department said. Many patients had a fever, body aches, chills, and fatigue, and those with more serious illness may get a rash and lesions that spread across the body. The rash and sores can be painful and last for 2 to 4 weeks.
Anyone can get and spread monkeypox, the department said, though current cases are mostly spreading among social networks of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. People with multiple or anonymous sex partners face a high likelihood of exposure.
Vaccine supply remains low, the department said, as it receives a limited number of doses from the federal government. New York City has given nearly 7,000 vaccinations so far, the AP reported, and health officials are expecting 14,500 doses this week.
“There are no appointments currently available,” the department said. “We expect more appointments to be made available later this week, as we receive more supply.”
The U.S. has reported more than 1,000 monkeypox cases amid the growing worldwide outbreak, according to the latest CDC data, with the highest numbers being reported in California, Illinois, and New York.
More than 80 cases have been reported in Washington, DC. To avoid appointment issues, the city is allowing residents to preregister for vaccines, the AP reported. Up to 3,000 slots were set to open on Thursday.
In June, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that five commercial laboratories would soon begin offering monkeypox testing to handle demand. On Monday, Mayo Clinic Laboratories began testing for orthopoxvirus and monkeypox, according to a CDC announcement.
The Mayo Clinic expects to be able to perform up to 10,000 tests per week. Labcorp, which began testing last week, also expects to do up to 10,000 tests per week.