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Monkeypox Declared Public Health Emergency

Monkeypox Declared Public Health Emergency

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra announced on Aug. 4 that he will declare the ongoing spread of monkeypox virus in the United States a Public Health Emergency (PHE). According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, “Monkeypox is an infection caused by a virus similar to the smallpox virus. It has been most common in some countries in Africa, but outbreaks can occur in other areas.”

A press release from HHS states that “This action will further strengthen and accelerate the Biden-Harris Administration’s response in recognition of the continued rapid transmission of monkeypox in the U.S. and globally, and to signal the seriousness and urgency with which the Administration is responding.”  The announcement comes on the heels of President Biden appointing Robert Fenton of the Federal Emergency Management Agency as White House National Monkeypox Response Coordinator and Dr. Demetre Daskalakis of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as White House National Monkeypox Response Deputy Coordinator.”

The PHE declaration, according to the release, is in conjunction with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that is working to get vaccines to affected communities across the nation, including the use of a new dose-sparing approach that may increase the number of available doses.

“The public health emergency also carries important implications for data sharing with the federal government,” the release adds. “Fifty-one jurisdictions have already signed data use agreements that will provide the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with information related to vaccine administration. Declaring the outbreak an emergency may provide the justification that the remaining jurisdictions need to sign their agreements. Additionally, it provides authorities to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to collect testing and hospitalization data.”

HHS has now shipped more than 602,000 doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine to states and jurisdictions and has allocated 1.1 million doses in total as well as making more doses available as jurisdictions use their current supply. Additionally, HHS announced that 150,000 doses will arrive in the U.S. next month—the doses were originally supposed to arrive in November.

Secretary Becerra was quoted in the release saying that “Ending the monkeypox outbreak is a critical priority for the Biden-Harris Administration. We are taking our response to the next level by declaring a public health emergency. With today’s declaration we can further strengthen and accelerate our response further.”