ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — With monkeypox steadily growing, New York’s public health system is feeling the crunch. The orthopoxvirus alarm is sounded and public health officials are concerned. They want the state to designate the public health issue as an “imminent threat.”
According to Sarah Ravenhall, executive director of the New York State Association of County Health Officials (NYSACHO), “we eagerly await the state’s issuance of Imminent Threat to Public Health, which we anticipate will take place soon, and further, we are requesting that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issue a declaration that will include orthopoxvirus under the PREP act, which will help secure the health care professionals and resources needed by local health departments to field an efficient and effective response.”
“One of the biggest challenges to countering the growth and impact of monkeypox is the limited amount of vaccine that is currently available in New York and nationally,” said Nancy McGraw, President of NYSACHO and the Sullivan County Public Health Director.
As of July 28, according to the CDC, New York has confirmed 1,341 cases of monkeypox disease, which is caused by a strain of the orthopoxvirus. Health officials are heavily monitoring the illness as they are trying to balance the significance of health equity and accessibility to vaccines for qualified persons.
“However, vaccine supply is not the only obstacle to a comprehensive response,” McGraw added. “The lingering and profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly strained public health staff and resources at both the state and local levels, making our collective response to new threats such as monkeypox considerably more challenging.”
Monkeypox vaccines are currently limited, but any New Yorkers that have been exposed to the illness in high transmission areas qualify for the JYNNEOS vaccine. The JYNNEOS vaccine is licensed by the FDA as a two-dose set for the prevention of monkeypox for adults 18 years and older. The vaccine may reduce the possibility of infection, and within 14 days, symptoms may diminish.
“The advent and growth of monkeypox in New York State serves as another reminder of the critical role our public health infrastructure plays in protecting our communities,” said Ravenhall. “State DOH and local health departments are working tirelessly to coordinate a monkeypox response.”