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Philadelphia not receiving promised allotment of monkeypox vaccine, health officials say

Philadelphia not receiving promised allotment of monkeypox vaccine, health officials say
Philadelphia not receiving promised allotment of monkeypox vaccine, health officials say 02:38

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Philadelphia health officials say the city is not getting its promised allotment of monkeypox vaccine. The city's health commissioner says Philadelphia was promised 3,612 doses but is only receiving 720 vials.

"I'm worried and I also feel really bad because just a couple of days ago, I met with community groups and talked about how excited we were to have much more vaccine with this new approach," Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said.

Bettigole says feds are reducing the allocation because of its new distribution system that allows the doses to be stretched with a different kind of injection.

"We had understood it would allow us to vaccinate many more Philadelphians. Right now, at least in the immediate future, we are actually going to receive fewer viles," Bettigole said. "I think the federal government has a very difficult job right now, but I do feel like it's really important for Philadelphia right now while this outbreak is relatively early to have as many doses as we possibly can have of this vaccine."

The Philadelphia health commissioner is one of many expressing concerns about the monkeypox vaccine distribution issues.

Sen. Cory Booker says New Jersey is also not getting its fair share of the monkeypox vaccine. In a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday, Booker says testing and vaccine needs to be increased given "the disproportionate risk that the state faces."

Booker says New Jersey usually follows New York in terms of the spread of infectious diseases and that the state has not yet received its basic allocation of monkeypox vaccine. Many other locations are also complaining about distribution issues.

There are now close to 12,000 monkeypox cases in the United States. The CDC case trends show a sharp escalation locally.

Pennsylvania now has 336 cases, New Jersey has 335 and Delaware has 10.

In the City of Philadelphia, monkeypox numbers are also rapidly increasing.

Last week, there were 128 cases. There are now 198. That's a 55% increase.

Bettigole says she's hoping to eventually get more vaccine.

Federal health officials have said they're doing the best they can to meet the demand and that the plan to stretch vaccine supplies is safe and will eventually get to everyone who needs protection.

Former Philadelphia AIDS coordinator David Fair says without a steady supply of the vaccine, the focus needs to turn to prevention -- stopping the virus before it spreads.

"We have an opportunity when it comes to monkeypox to stop this pandemic or this epidemic in Philadelphia in its tracks," Fair said. "But that means doing the prevention education that's necessary and doing it in the communities that are at highest risk and those are people who are engaging in unprotected sex."

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