Editor’s note: This is a breaking news story. Please return for updates.
Aug. 4, 2022 – The White House declared monkeypox a public health emergency on Thursday. There have been over 6,600 reported cases of monkeypox in the United States, up from less than 5,000 cases reported last week.
“This public health emergency will allow us to explore additional strategies to get vaccines and treatments more quickly out in the affected communities. And it will allow us to get more data from jurisdictions so we can effectively track and attack this outbreak,” Robert Fenton, who was named as the national monkeypox response coordinator this week, said at a news briefing Thursday.
Monkeypox is a virus like smallpox. Those who catch the virus usually have fever-like symptoms, followed by red lesions on the body that can raise and develop pus. Those at highest risk of monkeypox are gay and bisexual men, as well as men who have sex with other men. There are between 1.6 million and 1.7 million Americans in this high-risk group, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said at the briefing.
The Jynneos vaccine is being distributed to protect against monkeypox and can prevent severe symptoms. It’s mostly going to those with the greatest risk of catching the virus.
The most significant development is that monkeypox vaccines will be given through intradermal injections – or a small needle under the skin to create a pocket where the vaccine will go.
Last week, the Biden administration designated 1.1 million doses of the Jynneos vaccine, of which 600,000 doses have already been distributed across the country. The administration says it can now give 80,000 monkeypox tests per week.
An antiviral drug – known as TPOXX – is also available treat severe cases of monkeypox. Around 1,700,000 treatments are available in the Strategic National Stockpile, public health officials say.
“We are prepared to take our response to the next level, and we urge every American to take this seriously and to take responsibility to help us tackle this virus,” Becerra told reporters.