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Houston-area health officials update vaccination efforts, eligibility

The expanded eligibility covers an estimated 26,000 people living with HIV in Houston and Harris County.

HOUSTON — Monkeypox vaccines administered by the Houston Health Department have been switched to an injection that goes just under the skin.

HHD said the change begins Tuesday as they also expand the eligibility criteria for those seeking to get vaccinated.

Previously, the department vaccinated nearly 3,000 with a subcutaneous dose, meaning the medication was injected into the tissue layer between the skin and muscle.

RELATED: Monkeypox: Track Houston area counties and Texas case numbers; get answers to common questions

The change is part of the revised guidance recommended by the CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services. The expanded eligibility by the health department also covers an estimated 26,000 people living with HIV in Houston and Harris County.

HHD said they expect a second shipment of more than 10,000 doses to arrive this week. The shipment is expected to expand the department's inventory to more than 21,000 doses.

U.S. officials said they are able to ship out more monkeypox vaccine doses than previously planned — because of a strategy shift that allows more shots to be drawn from each vial.

RELATED: WHO plans to rename monkeypox over stigmatization concerns

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had previously anticipated allowing 221,000 doses to be ordered starting Monday. But officials said they would release 442,000 doses for order by state, local and territorial health departments.

The accelerated release was only possible because U.S. health officials said last week that they would stretch the nation’s limited supply of Jynneos monkeypox vaccine by giving people one-fifth the usual dose, injected just under the skin. Previously, each vaccine dose required a full vial injected into deeper tissue. They cited research suggesting that the reduced amount is about as effective.

The 442,000 doses would equate to about 88,000 vials.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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