Monkeypox: A new online tool for vaccines launched

The vaccine can help prevent illness, and also reduce the severity of the disease

Monkeypox vaccines should soon be easier to get and available for more people, with priority given to people at higher risk, after new policies were adopted to significantly boost the limited supply.

A new way of injecting the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine will increase the number of doses available up to fivefold. And the Georgia Department of Public Health launched a new centralized scheduling tool on its website to help people access the highly sought-after vaccines.

To schedule a monkeypox vaccine go to and click on the Learn More tab under “Find a Vaccine and Register for an Appointment.” There is also a new Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line at 888-457-0186 to help people who need assistance with a vaccine appointment via telephone that can include people who don’t have internet access.

Monkeypox vaccines have continued to trickle into Georgia but the availability has struggled to keep up with high demand. Georgia DPH had been listing information about county health departments offering the vaccine on its website, but available appointments filled up within hours, sometimes minutes, forcing people to call multiple locations over and over again, scrambling to try and secure a vaccine dose.

Meanwhile, the number of monkeypox cases rose to 1,013 as of Wednesday morning, up from 211 cases three weeks ago.

The new scheduling tool allows people to choose a first or second dose of Jynneos monkeypox vaccine from a dropdown menu. With the monkeypox vaccine supply limited, those seeking the vaccine will be asked a series of questions that will prioritize vaccines for those individuals at high risk and who may have been exposed to monkeypox.

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Dr. Melanie Thompson, an HIV researcher and physician based in Atlanta said she was delighted the centralized DPH portal was up and running, and said it was long overdue.

But one of her patients immediately hit a snag with the system. One of her patients who had been exposed to the virus got blocked from trying to sign up for a vaccine dose because he didn’t meet another requirement for qualifying for the vaccine. DPH spokeswoman Nancy Nydam said the agency has been made aware of the problem and was addressing it.

The monkeypox vaccine can help prevent illness, and also reduce the severity of the disease for those infected.

The Biden administration recently authorized a new way to inject a monkeypox vaccine in an effort to stretch the low supply. The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization to allow smaller doses of the Jynneos vaccine to be injected just under the skin, which will stretch the limited supply.

U.S. health officials are citing research that the reduced amount injected between skin layers is about as effective as the standard method.

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

“So the bigger dose went deeper and the smaller dose goes less deep and the effort there is obviously stretch the vaccine while getting the same immune response,” said Dr. Bronwen Garner, an infectious disease specialist at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital. “I think there’s data that supports doing this as an intervention, and so really understanding how it protects the population will come out after it’s been out for a while.”

Thompson said the decision to administer a lower volume of the two-dose Jynneos vaccine between layers of skin — what’s known as an intradermal injection — rather than subcutaneously, in the fat layer under the skin as is currently done, should not be considered as a lower, less effective vaccine.

“This is the right dose, even though it was a smaller dose, needed to provoke a similar response to the subcutaneous method,” she said, pointing to research comparing the two methods.

Thompson said while more studies are urgently needed to better understand whether people who are HIV positive may need an additional dose of the Jynneos vaccine, she said people who are HIV positive, particularly those with robust CD4 counts (a test that measures how strong the immune system is) could very well be adequately protected with the standard, two-dose series.

U.S. officials said the new approach to administering the vaccine, which is set to begin in Georgia Wednesday, allows them to make hundreds of thousands more doses available now while they gather data about how the shots are being used. That will help the government make sure doses are being administered to the places and people that need them most, officials said.

U.S. officials previously shipped more than 630,000 doses, though not all have been used. Federal health officials have suggested they would need about 3.2 million shots to vaccinate all those considered at the highest risk of monkeypox. High risk includes people who are aware one of their sexual partners in the past two weeks has been diagnosed with monkeypox and people who have had multiple sexual partners in the past two weeks in an area with known monkeypox cases.

As of Tuesday afternoon, it was not clear how many doses Georgia will have under this new method of injecting the vaccine.

Other challenges remain. Changing to intradermal administration is also complicated. Vaccines are not typically given this way in the U.S. It can be more difficult to administer.

Nydam said this new method is the same injection technique used to place TB screening tests, and most public health nurses are already trained to do this method. Nydam said the agency is providing training for staff who have not previously used this injection technique and for those who need a refresher.

The monkeypox virus causes fever, swollen glands, and lesions and can be extremely painful. It’s rarely fatal and doesn’t generally lead to hospitalizations. People with weakened immune systems, children under 8, people with a history of eczema, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may be more likely to get seriously ill, according to the CDC.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.