Aug 10, 2022 - News

Officials issue emergency order for monkeypox

Illustration of a small syringe casting a large shadow.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Local health officials issued a public health emergency for monkeypox as the number of Austin-area cases reached 68.

The big picture: In a news conference Tuesday, Mayor Steve Adler said the order would help raise awareness about the outbreak, show the importance of limiting exposure and ensure that federal disaster funding and reimbursement is available.

State of play: The Biden administration declared monkeypox a public health emergency last week, and the World Health Organization previously declared the virus a global emergency.

Zoom in: Austin Public Health received 3,154 doses of the monkeypox vaccine during the first phase of the national rollout, according to Adler.

  • "That means we've gotten a pretty large portion of the vaccine available nationally, and it is not enough," Adler said. "We need the federal government to do everything they can to increase availability.”
  • Austin Public Health prioritizes vaccines for those who have been directly exposed to the virus. Others who have been to large events or venues where there's been an outbreak are prioritized next.

Of note: Gay and bisexual men have felt the brunt of the infections so far, but Austin-Travis County health authority Desmar Walkes noted that nine women and two children in Texas have contracted the virus.

  • "This is not something that is just confined to one segment of our community," Walkes said.
  • Walkes asked residents to stay home if they're sick, wash their hands and wear a mask if they're in close, face-to-face contact for prolonged periods.
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