This story was updated Aug. 22, 2022 at 3:45 p.m. with additional information from the Department of Health and Human Services.
The state is expanding access to the monkeypox vaccine to those at higher risk as a protection against contracting the disease. Until recently, the state limited the vaccine to those with confirmed cases because it had a limited supply.
As of Aug. 18, the most recent data available, New Hampshire had 16 confirmed cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The type of monkeypox virus identified in New Hampshire is not usually fatal, and most people will get better within a few weeks after developing symptoms, the Department of Health and Human Services states on its monkeypox resource website. However, people with a weakened immune system, children under 8, those with a history of eczema, and pregnant or breastfeeding women may be more likely to get seriously ill or die.
So far, four sites – Coos Family Health in Berlin, Keady Family Practice in Claremont, White Mountain Community Center in Conway, and the Nashua Health Department – are providing the vaccine to at-risk populations. (The Nashua site is for clients who are underinsured or uninsured and live in greater Nashua.) Dartmouth Health in Lebanon and four Convenient MD locations expect to begin administering the vaccine in the next two weeks.
Health and Human Services is advising people to first ask their primary care provider if the vaccine is right for them. Providers can then refer patients to a vaccination site. Those without primary care providers can contact a site directly to make an appointment.
Based on recommendations from the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the department is able to extend its limited supply to at-risk populations by administering a lower dose of the vaccine intradermally, between the top and bottom layers of skin on a person’s forearm. That method was found to produce the same level of antibody protection compared to a higher dose of the same vaccine given beneath the skin layers.
The department has enough vaccine for close to 2,000 people, said spokesperson Laura Montenegro.
This story was written by Annmarie Timmins, a Senior Reporter at the New Hampshire Bulletin, where this story first appeared.