Metro Health tries to stretch monkeypox vaccination supply by changing how it's administered

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Posted at 4:24 PM, Aug 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-29 20:01:01-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Health departments, like the Metro Public Health Department, are changing how they administer the monkeypox vaccine to maximize the supply.

As of Monday, MPHD will be using an uncommon vaccination method.

"Most of the vaccines you get are either subcutaneous — in the fat, or in the muscle. This vaccine actually just goes into the forearm," explained Laura Varnier, a director at Metro Public Health Department. "It's a smaller dose, and just like you might have ever had with a TB skin test, it just goes right on top."

The 18 vaccinators that work for the health department are now trained to administer the new way. They practiced for two weeks because the process is very different than the process for other shots. Switching to the new method will allow nurses to get five times as many doses from the standard one-dose vial.

According to the White House, 75% of health departments in the country have switched to intradermal injection and another 20% are moving in that direction.

At the moment, MPHD is saving vaccine doses for close contacts of people with confirmed cases of monkeypox and people receiving HIV Prep medications or those who are positive for a sexually transmitted infection.

"Most of our cases are coming from the population of men having sex with men, so we're really trying to make sure we get the word out to those communities... we also want to make sure we get in touch with any of their partners or anyone else in that community that could benefit," Varnier said.

Vaccine appointments are booked out to October.

Monkeypox spreads through skin-to-skin contact and often presents as a painful rash. It is predominately affecting gay and bisexual men, however others, like caregivers, are still at risk.