Baltimore health officials said Tuesday they’re trying to get more monkeypox vaccines for city residents as cases rise across the state, but that demand is greater than the doses the city has available.
The city health department has partnered with Chase Brexton Health Care, a Baltimore-area clinic, to distribute vaccines, but Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said all appointments have been filled.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention allocated Maryland about 3,300 doses, with Baltimore initially receiving a total of 200. Chase Brexton Health Care has 75 doses, the city’s health department has 65 doses and will hold an additional 60 doses in reserve to give to people identified through contact tracing or connected to other cases. The health department and Chase Brexton organized three pop-up sites at bars Saturday night where people signed up for vaccine appointments.
The CDC has confirmed 87 cases statewide in Maryland, with 21 identified in the Baltimore region. Maryland spotted its first presumed case in mid-June.
“Everyone in the healthcare space in Maryland, providers, community advocates, elected officials, as well as state and local health departments are advocating for more doses ... these doses are coming in from a national stockpile exclusively under the federal government’s control,” Dzirasa said at a Tuesday press conference.
Monkeypox is similar to smallpox, but less contagious and with milder symptoms. Monkeypox spreads between people through direct contact with skin lesions, large respiratory droplets, body fluids or contaminated materials, such as clothing or linens.
Health department officials and Chase Brexton said their response is affected by “the extremely limited doses” received so far.
“We are doing what we can to secure as many doses as we can as quickly as possible, and we do anticipate receiving more doses in future phases of distribution,” Dzirasa said. Members of the public seeking the monkeypox vaccination are strongly encouraged to sign up for an appointment. The facility does not have the capacity or vaccine doses available to accommodate walk-ins, she said.
“It’s important for residents to know that anyone is susceptible to the virus, no matter your race, gender or sexual orientation,” Dzirasa added.
This story has been updated to correct the number of monkeypox vaccine doses allocated to Maryland.