Low Vaccination Rates Put U.S. at High Risk of New Mpox Outbreaks

Cara Murez

Cara Murez

Published on March 31, 2023

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Key Takeaways

Health officials warn that less than one-quarter of high-risk Americans are vaccinated against mpox, formerly known as monkeypox

Although cases currently are well below the peak of 450 infections a day last summer, the CDC anticipates a resurgence

Most U.S. communities have had too few people vaccinated to prevent a potential outbreak

FRIDAY, March 31, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. public health officials want high-risk individuals who haven’t been vaccinated for mpox — previously called monkeypox — to do so before a potential resurgence of the virus in the coming months.

That surge could be worse than last year, federal modeling has found, but only about 23% of those at high risk for the virus have received vaccines, according to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most communities have had too few people vaccinated to avoid a potential outbreak and have a “greater than 35%” risk of the virus resurging, the CDC said.

"It's not us saying get more people vaccinated because we think it's a good idea. We need to get more people vaccinated because we know there's a linear relationship between how many people are vaccinated and the chance of not having an outbreak," Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, deputy coordinator for the White House's mpox response, told CBS News.

Those at highest risk include gay and bisexual men, and people who have multiple sex partners.

People who survived previous mpox infections may have some protection already, according to the CDC. The risk of reinfection could grow for those individuals, however, over time and if the virus mutates, the report noted.

"This is the time to do that little health check, that tune-up before we get into summer to make sure that we have all our ducks in a row," Daskalakis said.

Now is a good time to get the Jynneos mpox vaccine while cases are down, he added.

"People with two doses should feel pretty confident that they're protected. But then always remember, if you have a lesion that's concerning, you should get tested because nothing is perfect," Daskalakis said.

Mpox cases are now reported at about one case a day throughout the United States. At their peak last August, there were 450 daily reported infections.

In its efforts to curb the virus, the CDC has created a new webpage that provides an mpox vaccine locator. To find a site near you, visit the MPOX vaccine locator.

"This is getting embedded into the fabric that we do to prevent sexually transmitted infections, like HIV. So it's moved back into a space that's more routine," Daskalakis said.

The study findings were published March 31 in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

More information

The World Health Organization has more on mpox.

SOURCES: CBS News; Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, March 31, 2023

What This Means for You

People with two doses of the Jynneos vaccine should "feel pretty confident that they're protected."

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