US Declares Monkeypox Outbreak a National Health Emergency

August 4, 2022 — The White House declared monkeypox a public health emergency on Thursday. There have been over 6600 reported cases of monkeypox in the United States, up from the under 5000 cases reported last week.

Monkeypox is a virus-like smallpox. Those who catch the virus usually experience fever-like symptoms, followed by red legions on the body, which can raise and develop puss. Those who are at highest risk for monkeypox are gay and bisexual men, as well as men who have sex with other men. There are between 1.6 and 1.7 million Americans in this high-risk group, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.

The Jynneos vaccine is being distributed to protect against monkeypox and can prevent severe symptoms; it is primarily being distributed to those with the greatest risk for catching the virus. 

The most significant development is that monkeypox vaccines will be administered 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 Jynneos vaccine, of which, 600,000 doses have already been distributed across the country. The administration says it currently has the capacity to administer 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 currently 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 at a press briefing Thursday.

More developments to come.

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