WEDNESDAY, June 29, 2022 (HealthDay News) — The United States is deploying an enhanced nationwide vaccination strategy to counter the continuing spread of monkeypox, federal public health officials announced at a White House briefing on Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is rapidly expanding access to hundreds of thousands of doses of the Jynneos vaccine, targeted to smallpox and its viral cousin monkeypox. Vaccine doses will be used to protect those Americans deemed to be at higher risk of contracting the virus, federal officials said.

Right now, those at highest risk include anyone who has had close physical contact or sexual contact with a person with a known case of monkeypox. Also at high risk are gay and bisexual men who “have recently had multiple sex partners in a venue where there was known to be monkeypox or in an area where monkeypox is spreading,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement.

Testing capacity for monkeypox also is being expanded nationwide, health officials said. The CDC started shipping tests to five commercial laboratory companies across the nation, to make sure that testing is available in every community, the experts at the White House briefing said.

“Vaccination after exposure or using vaccines for ‘postexposure prophylaxis’ is meant to reduce your risk of becoming infected with the virus and then becoming sick,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, M.D., explained at the briefing. “Vaccination should occur within two weeks of a possible exposure, and the sooner you can get vaccinated after the exposure, the better.”

Doses of the Jynneos vaccine will be distributed to areas with the highest transmission and need, using a tiered allocation system, officials said. The federal government is making 56,000 doses of the vaccine available immediately, and another 240,000 doses will be made available in coming weeks. More than 750,000 additional doses will be made available over the summer, and another 500,000 doses will be released through the fall. All told, the U.S. expects to release 1.6 million doses of Jynneos vaccine this year, officials said.

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