As ensuring adequate supply and distribution of the monkeypox virus vaccine becomes “less of an issue,” efforts have shifted toward maintaining demand, Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, White House national monkeypox response deputy coordinator, said on Sept. 7.
This will mean, “making sure that people know that a effective and safe vaccine is available for those that could benefit,” he said, during a press briefing that also featured National Response Coordinator Dr. Bob Fenton and White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
The officials said they were pleased with the impact of their targeted allocations of vaccine doses to events with large numbers of gay and bisexual men who have sex with men, populations considered high risk for MPV infection.
“Thousands of shots were administered” at Southern Decadence in New Orleans, Black Pride in Atlanta and Oakland Pride in the San Francisco Bay Area, Fenton said. These efforts “were, frankly, wildly successful,” Daskalakis said.
During a Q&A with reporters that followed the briefing, Daskalakis addressed questions about the racial disparities that have begun to emerge with respect to infection and vaccination rates.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, “Black people have received 22 percent vaccines, while they account for 36 percent of cases. In contrast, White people have received 63 percent of vaccinations but account for 42 percent of cases.”
Daskalakis explained the events that were targeted this summer were a major part of addressing the disproportionately higher rates of infection and lower rates of vaccination among people of color.
“It’s not about just the vaccine allocation,” he said. “It’s about that intense community engagement that happens on the ground because, ultimately, public health is a local event.”
From the beginning of the outbreak, those engaged in the federal response were in touch with community organizations, Daskalakis said: “Giving the tools that people need to be able to sort of reach health goals is what we’ve been doing. And the support of organizations that serve Black and brown people have been pivotal in really turning the tide in what I think you’re going to see, the new vaccine numbers emerging over the next few weeks.”