Florida rations limited supply of monkeypox vaccine as infections rise


DOH spokesman Jeremy Redfern said while the virus is considered low risk to the general public, agency officials expect more people to get sick.

“That being said, due to the lack of monkeypox vaccines from the federal government, we expect infections to increase,” Redfern said in an email. “Monkeypox proves to be extremely painful for those infected, but the death rate remains zero in the United States.”

Rising monkeypox infections nationwide prompted President Joe Biden to declare a public health emergency last week. Data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows New York leads the nation with 1,960 infections on Sunday, followed by California with 1,310 cases. The governors of those states have each signed an emergency declaration as cases have risen, but the Florida Department of Health has no plans to ask DeSantis to declare an emergency.

« We are working with providers, hospitals, and clinics to ensure they are able to properly diagnose a case of monkeypox and report the case to their county health department for further testing, » Redfern wrote.

An emergency declaration allows the state government to coordinate with agencies, impose special restrictions, and sign contracts outside of government procurement laws.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Ladapo have played down the impact of the monkeypox virus, with DeSantis saying last week – when Florida was fifth in the nation for infections – that politicians and the media are using the virus to scare people .

Two Democrats vying to unseat the incumbent Republican also demanded that DeSantis take more action. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said after a campaign-related news conference Tuesday in the parking lot of the governor’s mansion that her office has asked HHS to provide the state with more vaccines. She also urged the DeSantis administration to take the impact of the virus more seriously.

Fried said she recognizes that emergency declaration powers may not be necessary for monkeypox in relation to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, but awareness efforts are essential to prevent the virus from spreading. spread, usually through direct human contact.

« It’s more so that we can say this is serious, that we have a problem here and that we are starting to work with our local governments to provide the vaccine and testing resources, » Fried said. « All about monkeypox is that knowledge is power. »

Fried will face Rep. charlie christ (D-Fla.) in the Aug. 23 primary, and the winner of that race will face DeSantis in November. Crist said in an interview Tuesday that DeSantis should be looking for ways to get more vaccines from HHS rather than just downplaying the issue. With awareness playing such a crucial role in preventing the spread, DeSantis should pull more of the levers he has if something goes wrong.

« We know testing is difficult, and there are probably more cases than we’ll ever know, » Crist said in a phone interview. « The thing to do here is to be engaged, and the governor just isn’t engaged here. »

Fried and Crist also called on the Biden administration to acquire more vaccine doses. The United States suffered a shortage of the Jynneos vaccine used to treat monkeypox after the first infections were reported in May.

By declaring a national emergency, Biden initiated a process for the federal government to follow before changing a vaccine use authorization. In Florida, Redfern said the state can order counties to hold vaccines without reporting and that the state’s actions are meant to accommodate delays in federal vaccine distribution.

« A state of emergency can’t do much to expedite something that’s physically unavailable, » Redfern said.

An LGBTQ coalition is already planning its own outreach efforts to alert high-risk Floridians. National Black Justice Coalition deputy director Victoria Kirby York said Florida officials had overlooked the state’s status as one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, with millions of visitors to the beach every summer. She said previous governors from Crist to Jeb Bush have shown compassion for human beings.

« Governor DeSantis has done nothing but show that every decision he makes is about a presidential race, » Kirby York said. « It has little or nothing to do with the welfare of Florida residents. »

The National Black Justice Coalition was one of the groups chosen by drugmaker Gilead Sciences on Tuesday to receive part of a $5 million grant to help promote monkeypox awareness. Kirby York’s organization calls the virus monkeypox MPV because of its racial connotation.

« If we’re going to stop this, we have to change course and start getting into these communities and educating people, » she said. “You would think we would know by now that viruses always start in a community.”


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