NEW YORK (PIX11) – New York City opened up more than 12,000 monkeypox vaccine appointments Wednesday evening, as the health department transitions to a new vaccination strategy that will expand the availability of doses.

The first-dose appointments were made available through New York City’s vaccine portal at 6 p.m. The appointments will take place from Aug. 25 through Sept. 3.

New York City health officials are working to implement a new vaccination strategy to spread out the supply of available doses. Monkeypox vaccines will eventually be administered primarily through intradermal injections, instead of subcutaneous injections.

The intradermal injections include a smaller dose of the vaccine but produce a similar immune response to subcutaneous injections, according to the FDA. This new strategy will increase the number of available doses by up to five times as many, officials said.

The new intradermal vaccination strategy was mandated by the federal government.

“In recent weeks the monkeypox virus has continued to spread at a rate that has made it clear our current vaccine supply will not meet the current demand,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said in a statement. “The FDA quickly explored other scientifically appropriate options to facilitate access to the vaccine for all impacted individuals. By increasing the number of available doses, more individuals who want to be vaccinated against monkeypox will now have the opportunity to do so.” 

Intradermal injections result in more redness, itchiness and swelling at the injection site but are less painful, FDA officials said. New York City’s health department has begun training vaccinators on how to give intradermal injections as it prepares to implement the new vaccination strategy on a broader scale.

With more monkeypox vaccine doses becoming available for New Yorkers, new information about second-dose availability will be shared within the next week, health officials said.

Monkeypox is a contagious disease that is most often spread through direct contact with the rash or sores of someone who has the virus. It can also spread through contact with clothing, bedding, and other items used by a person with monkeypox, or from respiratory droplets that can be passed through prolonged face-to-face contact. Transmission can happen during sex or other intimate activities such as oral, anal or vaginal sex, hugging, kissing or massaging.

“Anyone can get and spread monkeypox. The current cases [in New York City] are primarily spreading through sex and other intimate contact among social networks of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM); transgender people; gender-nonconforming people; and nonbinary people. People in these social circles who have multiple or anonymous sex partners are at a high risk of exposure,” the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene website states.

The most common symptom of monkeypox is a rash or sores that can look like pimples or blisters. These may be all over the body or just in certain parts. Symptoms usually start seven to 14 days after exposure, but in some cases, they may not appear for up to 21 days, according to health experts.

Most of the people who have contracted monkeypox have not been hospitalized and have recovered on their own.