Monkeypox vaccines and tests have been hard to come by for some.
The monkeypox outbreak in the US is a public health emergency, the Department of Health and Human Services declared Thursday.
The declaration will open up more funding and resources to respond to the outbreak. These include testing, vaccines, and treatments.
It will facilitate better coordination between state, federal, and local officials and reduce other health care restrictions.
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Robert Fenton said, “We are applying lessons learned from the battles we’ve fought — from COVID response to wildfires and measles. We will tackle this outbreak with the urgency this moment demands.” Fenton is the White House national monkeypox response coordinator.
The WHO declared the monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency in late July. Some states and cities in the US, including California, New York, and Illinois, have declared their own public health emergency. Biden’s federal administration is under pressure to do the same for the US.
Monkeypox is a disease similar to smallpox but typically much less severe. It isn’t a new disease, but cases have quickly grown this summer in countries that don’t typically experience its spread.
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There are now over 7,000 known cases of monkeypox in the United States, with the outbreak spreading.
Vaccines that work against monkeypox exist, as do some medications expected to be effective against the disease.
However, vaccinating people at higher risk of getting the disease has been difficult because of a limited supply of Jynneos, the newer vaccine shipped out to US states.
The US has not reported any deaths yet, but monkeypox can be very painful for some people. Monkeypox primarily spreads from close contact, such as sexual activity or living with someone.
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Currently, most cases in the US and European countries involve men who have sex with men, though anyone can get the disease.
The fight against monkeypox should also protect the health and dignity of impacted communities, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in July.