New York City began offering monkeypox vaccination to at-risk groups on Thursday as authorities scramble to contain a global outbreak.
But the demand was so high that within hours of the program’s launch the city had to stop visiting appointments and scheduled visits had already been booked early next week.
Unlike the early days of COVID, when there was no effective treatment, there are already multiple vaccines that work against the orthopoxvirus that causes the disorder.
About 28 people have tested positive for the virus in the city since the beginning of May, nearly all men having sex with men. In total, New York City accounts for over 20% of all diagnosed cases nationwide.
The move to offer the vaccine follows similar efforts in cities like Montreal and Toronto.
On Thursday, the Department of Health announced the opening of a temporary clinic to administer the two-dose JYNNEOS vaccine to eligible people who may have had recent exposure to monkeypox, the city said.
The vaccines will be administered at the Chelsea Sexual Health Clinic (303 Ninth Avenue in Manhattan). The clinic will be open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday from 11:00 to 19:00 onwards.
But starting at 2pm on Thursday, just three hours after its doors opened, the city said no more walk-ins would be hosted and all appointments would be busy until Monday. News 4 had more than 100 people lining up outside the clinic at the time.
In a tweet, the health department advised people to check back on Sunday for more appointments next week.
How do you catch monkeypox?
The CDC released a new monkeypox guide last week as the number of suspected cases nationwide increased, marking the largest monkeypox outbreak in America, which has typically been confined to other continents.
While the CDC says the risk to the general public remains low, people are advised to avoid close contact with those who are sick, including those with skin or genital lesions, as well as sick or dead animals. Anyone showing symptoms, such as a rash or unexplained injury, should contact their doctor for assistance.
It is also advisable to avoid eating game meat or using products (such as creams, powders or lotions) that come from wild animals of Africa.
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958, when outbreaks occurred in colonies of monkeys held for research, hence its name. (What you need to know about monkeypox.)
The first case in a human was reported in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which still has most of the infections. Other African countries where it was found: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone.
Human symptoms of monkeypox are similar but milder than symptoms of smallpox, the CDC says. It presents as a flu-like illness accompanied by swollen lymph nodes and rashes on the face and body.
Monkeypox begins with fever, headache, body aches and exhaustion. Monkeypox also causes the lymph nodes to swell, which smallpox does not do. The incubation period is usually 7-14 days, but can range from 5 to 21 days.
The CDC is urging health care workers in the United States to pay attention to patients who have rashes compatible with monkeypox, regardless of whether they have traveled or have specific risks for monkeypox. Read more about the travel notice here.