HHS Declares Monkeypox Emergency, Expands Vaccine Distribution

Confirmed cases of monkeypox in the United States have reached more than 7,500, according to the CDC.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra declared the ongoing spread of monkeypox virus in the United States a Public Health Emergency (PHE) and is expanding monkeypox vaccine distribution.

"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,” Becerra said in a statement. “With this declaration, we can further strengthen and accelerate our response further.”

U.S. monkeypox cases have soared to 7,510 as of Aug. 5, 2022, according to the CDC.

“President Biden has called on us to explore every option on the table to combat the monkeypox outbreak and protect communities at risk,” added White House National Monkeypox Response Coordinator Robert Fenton. “We are applying lessons learned from the battles we’ve fought — from COVID response to wildfires to measles, and will tackle this outbreak with the urgency this moment demands.”

HHS has shipped more than 602,000 doses of the Jynneos (Bavarian Nordic) monkeypox vaccine to states and jurisdictions — an increase of 266,000 in the past week. The agency has allocated 1.1 million doses to states and jurisdictions and is making more doses available as jurisdictions use their current supply.

In addition, HHS has accelerated the delivery of an additional 150,000 vaccine doses. “The doses, which were slated to arrive in November will now arrive in the US in September,” the agency said.

The FDA is also exploring new strategies that could help get vaccines to affected communities across the country, including a new dose-sparing approach that could increase the number of doses available, up to five-fold, HHS said.

President Joseph R. Biden also recently appointed Robert Fenton of the Federal Emergency Management Agency as White House National Monkeypox Response Coordinator and Demetre Daskalakis, M.D., with the CDC as White House National Monkeypox Response Deputy Coordinator.

In early July, HHS said the Strategic National Stockpile had shipped 19,965 doses of Jynneos to 15 jurisdictions across the United States as part of the initial phase of the strategy. An additional 11,565 doses have been ordered by jurisdictions and those are being processed for delivery.

Once requests for vaccine are made by the jurisdictions and approved by the CDC, the Strategic National Stockpile prepares the vaccine for shipment and can deliver the doses as soon as the next day, HHS said.

Data on Jynneos deliveries are publicly available every Wednesday at Monkeypox (hhs.gov).