California, Illinois Declare Health Emergencies Over Monkeypox

California and Illinois declared health emergencies to bolster their response to the monkeypox outbreak on Monday. These decisions come a few days after New York state declared monkeypox an imminent threat to public health.

According to California’s Governor Gavin Newsom, the proclamation will expand vaccination efforts by enabling Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel to administer monkeypox vaccines that are approved by the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).

"It is critical to maximize the number of personnel who can administer vaccines within this outreach effort, and expanding the pool of eligible vaccinators will substantially aid current efforts and support anticipated further vaccination efforts upon receipt of additional doses from the federal government," he wrote in the emergency declaration.

As the number of monkeypox cases continues to grow, the governor of Illinois, JB Pritzker, also declared a state of emergency. It will allow the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to utilize resources for coordinating logistics across state agencies, aid in the distribution of vaccines and in the prevention and treatment.

Both governors expressed support for the LGBTQ+ community, disproportionately affected by the current outbreak, and warned against stigmatization.

“Here in Illinois, we will ensure our LGBTQ+ community has the resources they need to stay safe while ensuring members are not stigmatized as they access critical health care,” Governor Pritzker said.

Last week New York state declared monkeypox an imminent threat to public health. According to the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Mary T. Bassett, the declaration means that local health departments engaged in response and prevention activities will be able to access additional State reimbursement.

The Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) data shows that there are 5,811 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the US. New York state is worst affected, having 1390 cases. To date, California has recorded 827 cases of monkeypox, while Illinois reported 520 cases.

How to protect yourself?

Anyone can get monkeypox, regardless of gender, age, or sexual orientation, as the virus can spread through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact. You can read more about monkeypox symptoms and treatment here.

New York health authorities issued recommendations on how to protect yourself from monkeypox:

  • Ask sexual partners whether they have a rash or other symptoms consistent with monkeypox.
  • Avoid skin-to-skin contact with someone who has a rash or other monkeypox-related symptoms.
  • Contact a healthcare provider following exposure or symptoms, and check with your local county health department about vaccine eligibility.
  • New Yorkers who receive JYNNEOS vaccine should receive both doses, given four weeks apart, and stay vigilant until fully vaccinated, two weeks following the second dose.
  • If you or your healthcare provider suspect you may have monkeypox, isolate at home. If you can, stay in a separate area from other family members and pets.
  • Follow reputable sources of health information, including NYSDOH, CDC, and your local county health department.

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