Regional public health experts are fine tuning their approach to getting decline in monkeypox vaccine into arms, even as D.C. reports a steady decline in new cases.

D.C. reports decline in monkeypox as vaccine efforts continue

New cases of monkeypox have declined 20 percent on average per week since the peak in mid-July, Anil Mangla, the state epidemiologist at D.C. Health, said in an interview Friday, a trend the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified in some states with larger outbreaks, such as New York and California. “There’s light the end of the tunnel when it comes to monkeypox in D.C.,” Mangla said. However, he said officials are “erring on the side of caution” with an aggressive vaccination effort and close monitoring of universities, which could see a bump in cases as students return to campus. As demand for the vaccine has waned in the District, officials last month expanded eligibility and amended procedures in an effort to undercut stigma associated with a virus that has overwhelmingly impacted men who have sex with men but can infect anyone. Virginia expanded eligibility guidelines shortly after D.C., despite a national shortage in vaccine and federal approval of an intradermal injection method to stretch doses. Several months into a global outbreak of decline in monkeypox , federal data show nearly 20,000 people had tested positive in the United States as of Thursday. There were 436 cases in the District as of Thursday, and 534 in Maryland and 353 in Virginia as of Friday, data show.

The District, which has received more vaccine than its neighbors, has administered nearly 24,000 doses of Jynneos, the only vaccine approved to treat decline in monkeypox . At one of three walk-up clinics held every Friday, the lunchtime crowd was thin. Over the course of an hour, two men — both of whom spoke to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity to protect their privacy — received first doses of the two-dose regimen. “I was a little sad to not see more people here,” said one man. He was invited to make an appointment after preregistering online, but said going to a walk-up clinic on his own schedule was simply easier He praised the smooth process but wondered if demand was down because people were unaware of where to get vaccinated or could not access the sites. D.C. public health removed intrusive questions from the registration process and made vaccine available to all people of any sexual orientation or gender who have had multiple sexual partners in the past two weeks, in accordance with CDC guidance.

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