Although there's now enough monkeypox vaccine to go around, the Americans who need it most still may not be getting it, a new report shows.
Only 10% of the Jynneos vaccine doses have been given to Black people, even though they make up a third of U.S. cases, new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.
The latest statistics were only able to be gathered from 17 states and two cities, but similar disparities have already been reported by a few states and cities. So far, the monkeypox outbreak has largely affected gay and bisexual men.
The United States has the most infections of any country -- over 17,000. About 98% of U.S. cases are men and about 93% were men who reported recent sexual contact with other men. No one in the United States has died from the illness, but deaths have been reported in other countries.
There could be several explanations for the troubling trend, experts say. It could be how and where shots are offered and publicized. Also, some Black men don't trust doctors and government public health efforts, or they may be less likely to identify themselves as at greater risk for getting the virus.
Vaccine reluctance was also seen in Black communities when COVID-19 vaccines were rolled out, Dr. Yvens Laborde, director of global health education at Ochsner Health in New Orleans, told the Associated Press. "If we're not careful, the same thing will happen here" with monkeypox, he said.
Black men are making up more monkeypox cases, Caitlin Rivers, a Johns Hopkins University expert on government response to epidemics, told the AP. "This is a problem that is not resolving," she said.
The Biden administration said Friday it has shipped enough monkeypox vaccine to give the first of two doses to those at the highest risk. That's nearly 2 million gay or bisexual men. The CDC, however, can't break that down by race, the AP noted.
Enough second doses are expected by the end of September. As a stopgap, health officials have already recommended cutting doses to stretch the supply of the vaccine. According to the Biden administration, only 14 jurisdictions of 67 have used enough vaccine to ask for more from the federal stockpile.
Black men need to have more access to the vaccine, some experts say.
CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, speaking at a White House briefing on Friday, said her agency has taken steps to increase vaccine access in Black communities. Vaccines and educational materials will be available at Atlanta's upcoming Black Pride events and New Orlean's Southern Decadence, the AP reported.
"We've seen as we're starting to roll these pilot projects out that they are working," she said.
In related news, a CDC survey released Friday showed that about half of gay and bisexual men are cutting back on sexual activity to avoid infection with monkeypox.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on monkeypox.