The Biden administration on Thursday declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency with more than 6,600 U.S. cases, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“We are ready to take our response to this virus to the next level, and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously,” Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Minister Xavier Becerra said according to the New York Times report in a press briefing on the statement.
The public health emergency lasts 90 days but can be renewed by the HHS secretary. The statement gives public health authorities the flexibility to respond to health crises in ways they would not normally be able to—for example, giving the CDC access to the Infectious Disease Rapid Response Reserve Fund, which can be used “to prevent, prepare for, or respond to infectious disease emergencies,” according to HHS . In practice, it could mean the temporary appointment of public health officials to respond to a crisis or to launch an investigation into monkeypox treatment and prevention (though those details are not yet known).
Secretary According to Washington Post.
HHS Public Health Emergency Statement Following a similar announcement by the World Health Organization (WHO), which declared monkeypox a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in July. “We know very little about the rapid spread of our outbreak around the world through new modes of transmission,” the WHO director-general said in a statement on July 23.
Secretary Beccera’s announcement follows separate states of emergency in California, New York and Illinois over monkeypox outbreaks — and growing public concern about access to preventive measures such as mass testing and vaccines. The first U.S. case of monkeypox in 2022 was reported in Massachusetts in May; in June, HHS announced an “enhanced national vaccination strategy to mitigate monkeypox transmission.” A June 28 statement on the strategy said HHS will provide Americans with 296,000 doses of the Jynneos vaccine, the only FDA-approved vaccine specifically for monkeypox.
However, vaccine rollouts have been slow, and even in states where monkeypox vaccines are available, residents have struggled to book appointments. Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that HHS failed to inquire about the maker of the Jynneos vaccine, the Danish biotech company Bavaria, early in the outbreak. Nordics – Bottles vaccines already in U.S. for distribution. By the time of the request, Bavaria Nordic had taken other orders and said it would not be able to package the U.S.-owned vaccine for distribution for “months.” To speed up the vaccine distribution process, the government is now trying to find another company that can package the vaccine, according to The New York Times .
The public health emergency underscores the importance of being aware of monkeypox symptoms – if you suspect you have been exposed to monkeypox and have potentially associated symptoms, see your healthcare provider. According to the CDC, these symptoms may include rash, fever, muscle aches, back pain, headache, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, chills, and cold or flu-like respiratory symptoms. If you have been exposed to monkeypox and develop symptoms, try to contact the provider you will see before your arrival. By calling or emailing them ahead of time, you can let the provider ensure they take the necessary precautions to protect themselves (and everyone else in their office) from potential exposure.
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