HOUSTON — Health officials on Tuesday rolled out a new vaccination plan in hopes of stretching the supply of the monkeypox vaccine. What is supposed to be enough for one patient will now be used to treat five.
The change comes as the U.S. struggles to keep up with the spread of the virus and some Texas cities issue emergency declarations.
On July 8, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported a total of 27 cases of the virus. Now, the department is reporting 701 cases in the state, many of which have already recovered.
Austin-area officials on Tuesday issued an emergency order due to monkeypox. Dallas County also issued a similar order on Friday. Both areas are hoping for more state resources, like vaccines.
The Houston Health Department said there's no plan to follow suit at this point in time, but the department is expecting up to 6,000 more vaccines to be delivered sometime next week.
The vaccines are in high demand and low supply, which is why the new guidance from national health officials was handed down.
"They feel that they have sufficient data to recommend this strategy for adults," said Dr. Stacey Rose, an assistant professor of infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine. "Although I should say overall I think we are still in the phase of building real-life data regarding how effective these vaccines will be."
Rose said the difference is how it’s administered — into the skin instead of under it.
"Kind of like you would give an insulin injection if you are diabetic," she said.
The Houston Health Department said once official guidance comes down from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they’ll switch over to this method within two days.
"Nothing has been normal the past few years," Rose said when asked if this is an unusual step. "I think we are just trying to use science to make educated guesses about what is the best plan for now in order to protect the most people that we can."