Federal health officials are raising the alarm about a “substantial risk” of a resurgence of mpox and are urging high-risk individuals to get vaccinated.
Too few men who identify as gay, bisexual, transgender and nonbinary have been vaccinated, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials said Thursday.CDC is investigating a new cluster of cases detected in Chicago earlier this month, one of the first major outbreaks since cases dropped off precipitously last fall. Those 21 cases underscore the concern about a summer surge.
The risk of outbreaks could further increase as people gather this spring and summer for festivals and other events with high potential for skin-to-skin contact or increased sexual activity, the agency warned.
Officials have said the primary way in which mpox is being transmitted in these outbreaks is through sexual contact.
Yet many of the 21 cases found in Chicago were among people who were either partially or fully vaccinated, raising questions about the durability of the shot’s immunity and whether it wanes over time.
But Demetre Daskalakis, deputy head of the White House mpox task force, said even if the shot doesn’t completely prevent infection, people who have received both doses have a much lower risk of catching and spreading the disease.
“Simply put, higher vaccination rates equal lower risk for an outbreak,” Daskalakis told reporters. “So even though no vaccine is perfect, even imperfect immunity in many people, still means a lot of immunity in the population.”
While more than 1.2 million people have received at least one dose of the Jynneos mpox vaccine, less than a quarter of the 1.7 million people at highest risk have been fully vaccinated with two doses, according to CDC.
“It is important to say that without renewed prevention efforts, especially vaccination, we are definitely at risk of a resurgence, in fact a substantial risk of resurgence,” Daskalakis said.