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Demand for the monkeypox vaccine in Texas is outstripping supply as the nondeadly disease takes hold

For weeks, Austin tech worker Taylor Scot Harrell desperately tried to get the monkeypox vaccine ahead of his vacation so that he wouldn’t contract a painful and contagious skin rash on an upcoming trip to Europe. Anyone can get the virus, which has no known long-term chronic effects and rarely leads to hospitalization. But it is painful and debilitating — and as a gay man, Harrell is part of what is currently a high-risk group for exposure. And…

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There is “a lot of fear,” he said, so “we send stuff out to our patients about it and what to be aware of, the risk factors.” Many people call us every day asking for the vaccine, and we have to break the bad news that there are currently only a small number of doses available in the United States, and even fewer in Texas.

Harrell spent the Fourth of July weekend with a friend who tested positive for the virus. For this reason, Harrell was able to get the vaccine just last week. As of this coming Friday, he will be on his way to Europe. There are no symptoms, but he has not taken a test, either.

Harrell received his vaccine at the exact moment that the cooler containing his dose was delivered to the clinic.

If they have to order his on the day of the appointment and it arrives before he arrives, then “I guess that speaks to the supply,” he mused.

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The lack of vaccines that can be used as a widespread preventative measure is, according to health officials in Texas who treat a large number of high-risk patients, the biggest obstacle to eventually containing the virus.

Dr. Vandana Shrikanth, a specialist in infectious diseases and the medical director of Legacy Community Health, which receives daily requests for the vaccine, described the situation as “hugely concerning.” “There are a lot of vulnerable people who aren’t getting any help.”

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