Adults seeking to protect themselves in the current outbreak of monkeypox will now be able to get a reduced dose of vaccine, but anyone under 18 considered at high-risk of infection who gets the vaccine would continue to receive the traditional shot, the Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday.
With an eye toward stretching the nation’s limited supply of monkeypox vaccine, the FDA is calling for anyone 18 or over to get just a fifth of the usual dose. Importantly, the shot will be administered just under the skin, instead of into deep tissue. That may help jump-start the immune response, despite the smaller dose, the FDA said.
Though federal agencies have not released school-specific guidance about monkeypox, epidemiologists have cautioned school leaders to remain informed, but not to panic. Just five of the 7,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the United States were children, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Higher-risk children include those 8 or younger, those with compromised immune systems, and those with skin conditions like eczema or severe acne.
The virus is typically transmitted through extensive skin-to-skin contact, or through shared towels and bedding. So far, the vaccine has been recommended for people who have already been exposed to monkeypox or are likely to get it due to recent sexual contacts in areas where the virus is spreading.
Monkeypox is a rare virus that was first documented in humans in 1970 and has caused occasional outbreaks since, according to the CDC. It can cause a blister-like rash that lasts for two to four weeks, fatigue, fever, aches, nasal congestion, and cough. Children are more likely to become severely ill if they are 8-years-old or younger, have compromised immune systems, or skin conditions like eczema or severe acne.
Monkeypox isn’t typically fatal, the agency said in guidance to physicians.
The Associated Press, Wire Service contributed to this article.