The governors of California and Illinois declared states of emergency to bolster their monkeypox vaccination efforts as the virus spreads nationwide.
Monday’s declarations come as more than 5,800 probable or confirmed cases of monkeypox have been reported in the US. California had more than 800 cases Tuesday, while Illinois had more than 500, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While the World Health Organization has declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, the Biden administration has not issued a nationwide public health emergency declaration.
California is the third and largest state to issue a statewide declaration related to the disease. New York was the first to do so.
California’s move allows emergency medical services personnel throughout the state to administer FDA-approved monkeypox vaccines, expanding the pool of people able to inoculate residents against the virus even as a vaccine shortage persists.
“Expanding the pool of eligible vaccinators will substantially aid current efforts and support anticipated further vaccination efforts upon receipt of additional doses from the federal government,” the proclamation said.
“California is working urgently across all levels of government to slow the spread of monkeypox, leveraging our robust testing, contact tracing and community partnerships strengthened during the pandemic to ensure that those most at risk are our focus for vaccines, treatment and outreach,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a news release.
Illinois’ declaration also will make more resources available to combat the virus, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said. The Chicago and state public health departments announced Illinois’ first presumptive case June 2.
“I am declaring a state of emergency to expand the resources and coordination efforts of state agencies in responding to, treating, and preventing the spread of MPV,” Pritzker tweeted. “In Illinois, we will ensure our LGBTQ+ community has the resources they need to stay safe while ensuring members are not stigmatized as they access critical health care.”
Monkeypox is a poxvirus, related to smallpox, that usually causes pimple- or blister-like lesions, as well as flu-like symptoms such as fever, headaches, muscle aches, chills and respiratory symptoms, according to the CDC.
The virus can spread to anyone through close, often skin-to-skin contact, according to the CDC. It’s also possible for people to get monkeypox from infected animals.
California has received more than 61,000 vaccine doses so far and distributed more than 25,000, according to the governor’s news release. Los Angeles County has received its own vaccine allocation, and state officials said California will make additional allocations in the coming weeks.
Last week, San Francisco became the first major US city to declare a local health emergency on monkeypox.
“We’ll continue to work with the federal government to secure more vaccines, raise awareness about reducing risk, and stand with the LGBTQ community fighting stigmatization,” the California governor said.
California has been using testing, contact tracing and vaccine infrastructure built for the Covid-19 pandemic to respond to monkeypox outbreaks, Newsom’s office said.
The CDC has made the antiviral prescription drug tecovirimat available for monkeypox patients at risk of severe disease, but access is limited in California. Now, the treatment can be administered at more than 30 facilities and providers across the state, officials said.
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