Thousands of New Yorkers spent hours refreshing a city government website on Wednesday, desperately seeking a monkeypox vaccine that, for now, is mostly going to the most web- savvy and connected.
It was similar to the early days of New York City's Covid-19 vaccine when finding an appointment felt like a radio contest. The city decided to use an online system to assign appointments for the first 3,500 doses of the highly sought after monkeypox vaccine Within minutes, the appointments were made.
Because of a glitch, about 600 appointments went only to people who had stored an older appointment website on their browsers, when the main Department of Health website went live.
Nicholas Diamond said that they had no chance of getting the vaccine because they followed the instructions from the Department of Health. The burden has been left on us to figure out how to care for ourselves because the city, state and federal government have failed to learn from the Covid response.
More than any other city, New York City has 141 cases of monkeypox so far, more than any other city. The disease is mostly spreading among men who have sex with men, and experts think there may be more cases than have been detected so far.
There have been no deaths in the United States due to the spreading outbreak, but it can cause painful blisters that take weeks to heal.
As more appointments become available, the city will work harder to ensure a more equitable approach, as the health commissioner apologized for the appointment glitch.
New Yorkers have had to wait much longer than they should because of technical problems with the vendor. The buck doesn't stop with us. We apologize and vow to do better going forward on this issue.
In an environment of scarce supply, it's difficult to preserve equity.
There have been a lot of cases of monkeypox in the city. The only place in the city that tests for the disease is the public health lab. Labcorp began offering the test on Wednesday.
Public health officials don't want to put up billboards warning the public about the disease because they see it as an outbreak among men who have sex with men and don't want to alarm the public. They rely on smaller efforts with community partners to get the word out.
The opening of a second vaccine clinic in New York City was announced at a news conference on Thursday. The first clinic was in a wealthy area.
75% of the cases so far have been in Manhattan, and one third of known cases are in the Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen neighborhoods.
There were high levels of anxiety among men who have sex with men, and there were still many unknowns about the disease.
The preferred vaccine for the monkeypox is the Jynneos vaccine. About 4,000 of them have been assigned to appointments. Several thousand are in reserve for distribution.
At the news conference, Raj Panjabi, the White House Pandemic Office's coordinater, said that more doses are coming. There will be another 144,000 doses released by the federal government in the next few weeks. 1.5 million of the four million doses will be sent to health departments later this summer and fall.
The Jynneos vaccine requires two doses to be fully protective, but so far, all of the doses coming to the city are being considered as first doses. There will be more available for second doses once more doses arrive.
One dose of the vaccine offers robust protection, according to the chief executive officer of the company. After the second dose, full protection from the vaccine won't come until two weeks later.
Monkeypox is what it is. In parts of Central and West Africa, there is a disease called monkeypox. It is not as bad as smallpox. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it was discovered in the 50's.
The symptoms are what they are. People who have been bitten by the Monkeypox will have a rash that starts with red marks and grows into a large lump of flesh. Symptoms can take as long as three weeks after exposure to show and can last as long as four weeks. Vaccines and other treatments can be used to stop an outbreak.
What is it that makes it infectious? Some experts think that the virus could occasionally be airborne. It has spread in unusual ways this year and among populations that have not been at risk in the past.
People who fall into one of a number of categories are eligible for the vaccine.
Individuals have recently been exposed to monkeypox.
Members of the gay, bisexual, and other communities of men who have sex with men and who have engaged in intimate or skin-to-skin contact with others in the past 14 days are at high risk of being exposed to monkeypox.
People who have had skin-to-skin contact with someone in a social network experiencing monkeypox activity include men who have sex with men and men who meet partners through an online website, digital app or social event.
Demand for the vaccine is high because it's broad. Health officials said that all appointments went quickly.
People spent hours not knowing if they had missed the roll out of the vaccine or if there was more to come.
Eugene Resnick, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, spent nine hours refreshing the city's website before he was able to get an appointment.
He said he was frustrated and angry with the health department. I am an inside worker in the government. I don't think it's accessible to a regular person not on the social networking site.
Joseph Osmundson, a microbiologist and queer activist helping to increase access to the vaccine, said that the city did the right thing by opening a clinic in Harlem, but that there needed to be a more urgent effort.
There is a lot of frustration in the community. He said people are trying to be careful but feel like they are being left behind and blamed for the spread of the disease: "We feel like we're being left behind and then blamed for the spread."