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Feds slash vaccines as monkeypox spreads

Another year, another virus, another chance for the White House to get it wrong.

This time around it’s monkeypox, first announced on these shores in a Massachusetts patient in May, with more than 14,100 infections reported across the country as of Monday,according to the CDC.

It has now been detected in all 50 states.

The good news this time around is that a vaccine already exists. The bad news: The Biden administration is fumbling the ball on distribution.

As Politico reported, last week the federal government slashed the number of vials states received in anticipation of each being able to vaccinate up to five people per vial instead of one. We have the vaccine, just not enough of it.

Officials previously said the country had enough vaccines in the Strategic National Stockpile. But many of those are an older vaccine, according to Time, which is approved for use against smallpox and can also be used for monkeypox. The better choice is Jynneos, approved for use against monkeypox and smallpox. The U.S. had only about 2,000 doses of Jynneos in the SNS when the outbreak began — and authorities are scrambling.

Operation Warp Speed this is not.

The FDA recently gave the high sign to Bavarian Nordic, a vaccine manufacturer in Denmark, and the supply is increasing. We  should have nearly 7 million doses of monkeypox vaccine by the middle of 2023, according to officials.

That’s little comfort in the middle of 2022.

In the meantime, the Biden administration expects health officials around the country to stretch what they’ve got. It’s not going well.

Health officials in half a dozen states told Politico that they are routinely able to extract only three or four doses per vial, thus being able to vaccinate fewer people.

And, even though the federal government made more vaccines available for states to order on Monday, states warn that they still do not have enough doses to contain a rapidly spreading outbreak.

“The federal government has patted themselves on the back for how they’re accelerating the delivery of vaccines,” said Patrick Ashley, senior deputy director at Washington, D.C.’s Department of Health. “What they did is they moved numbers around.”

The losers, of course, are Americans who want to ward off another new virus.

According to the CDC, monkeypox can spread to anyone through close often skin-to-skin contact, such as direct contact with the monkeypox rash or body fluids from a person with monkeypox and touching objects, fabrics and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox. It can also be passed through respiratory secretions.

The group with the highest risk of infection are men who have sex with men, according to the World Health Organization.

David C. Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, told CNN that the outbreak is “out of control.” He  told The Associated Press that “Program after program talked about the fear and stigma that gay men are experiencing in relation to (monkeypox), the shortages of vaccine, the burned-out staff, the shortages of funding to cover what has been an unanticipated public health emergency,” said Harvey.

We’ve seen what happens when a virus digs in amid an inadequate vaccine rollout.

How the Biden administration could repeat these mistakes is baffling — and unacceptable.

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