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EDITORIAL: Resources and planning, not panic, will be key in managing newest health threat

Posted 7/30/22

New York has declared the monkeypox virus an imminent threat to public health and announced a big boost in supply of the vaccine used to fight its spread. And, as monkeypox continues to spread, the …

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EDITORIAL: Resources and planning, not panic, will be key in managing newest health threat

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New York has declared the monkeypox virus an imminent threat to public health and announced a big boost in supply of the vaccine used to fight its spread.

And, as monkeypox continues to spread, the U.S. needs to learn lessons from other outbreaks, and fast.

Gov. Kathy Hochul said 80,000 doses of the monkeypox vaccine are going to New York City, and an additional 30,000 to the rest of the state, courtesy of the federal government.

The hard-to-source vaccine doses will be distributed over the next four to six weeks.

The announcement came as State Health Commissioner Mary Bassett announced she had declared the outbreak an imminent threat to public health.

The designation allows local health departments fighting the virus to access additional funds for reimbursement once other state and federal funding sources dry up.

As of Thursday, a combined 1,251 people had tested positive for monkeypox in New York City, the city health department said on Twitter. Statewide, there have been 1,341 confirmed cases, according to the state health department.

Nationwide, some 4,900 cases have been reported, though many public health officials believe the actual number is higher.

Monkeypox symptoms include rashes, sores and a flu-like illness. The monkeypox virus is transmitted by close contact with a symptomatic patient. This includes physical, skin-to-skin contact, such as sex. The disease can be painful and disfiguring, and lead to hospitalization in serious cases.

Policymakers and the general public must also learn from mistakes made in the response to AIDS. Stigma cannot delay the response to this outbreak or lull people into a false sense of security that this only impacts certain members of the population.

We have an ongoing reminder from the COVID-19 pandemic about the importance of testing, treatment and vaccine resources to help minimize the spread and severity of this new outbreak.

And if there is good news here, it is that vaccines used for both monkeypox and smallpox already exist.

Awareness across the country will be critical in understanding monkeypox, preventing infections and treating it when infections do occur.

Resources and planning, not panic, will be key in managing this newest outbreak.

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