On Friday, people lined up at a pop-up vaccination clinic in D.C. to get the monkeypox vaccine, hoping to reduce their risk of infection. Dr. Anthony Fauci says people should be aware, but they shouldn’t panic.
People lined up Friday for the monkeypox vaccine at a pop-up vaccination clinic in DC to reduce the risk of infection. Dr. Anthony Fauci says people should be aware of the virus but not panic.
The federal government on Thursday declared monkeypox a public health emergency to ramp up its response to the outbreak, which has infected more than 7,100 Americans. The announcement will free up money and other resources to fight the virus, which causes fever, body aches, chills, fatigue and acne-like bumps on many parts of the body, the Associated Press reported.
Fauci says it’s an “all hands on deck” approach that will synergize different elements to respond to a “serious and serious epidemic.”
Fauci says he believes monkeypox is manageable for four reasons. First, testing increased from 6,000 to 80,000 per week involving at least five commercial firms.
Initially 136,000 doses of the Jyneos vaccine increased to more than 600,000 within days, up to 1.1 million doses. Fauci says it’s still not what’s wanted or needed, but the process is accelerating.
It also sped up the process for health care providers to get TPOXX, an early treatment for people with monkeypox, making it easier for doctors to get the drug quickly without going through multiple rounds, Fauci said.
Ultimately, Fauci said, there was strong community outreach.
“I will protect myself as much as I can”
Hazel Johnson, a DC resident, was one of the people who came to the pop-up vaccine clinic on Georgia Avenue NW. He found out about a clinic near his home and came to get one of the 300 vaccines offered on Fridays at every vaccination site in the district.
Johnson said he’s not concerned about monkeypox because he doesn’t know of anyone in the D.C. area who has contracted monkeypox.
“But I’ll protect myself as much as I can, so I’m not worried. I have many trips ahead of me. So I want to make sure I’m covered on all bases,” Johnson said.
Last month, DC reported the nation’s largest per capita outbreak of monkeypox. DC currently has 280 cases, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Johnson and several residents told WTOP’s DMV Download podcast that the district’s response to the monkeypox outbreak has been excellent.
George, a D.C. resident who works in the nightlife scene, said he’s seen information about monkeypox and vaccines and feels good about how D.C. has handled it, especially the availability of vaccines.
“It’s not as big a line as it was with COVID. It’s good, there are different places. So far, I’m OK,” said George, who hopes the pop-up clinics will be better and more days will be available.
Another man, who declined to be named, said he tried to sign up online, but because days available were limited, going to the pop-up clinic felt like “the only way to get the vaccine.”
Eddie, another person in line Friday, said the district has made a good effort to open a vaccine clinic. He is somewhat concerned about the outbreak, so he is being vaccinated.
“You can never eradicate a new infection”
According to George, there was a lot of stigma attached to monkeypox against sex workers and people working in the nightlife. Fauci says pointing fingers is “the worst thing you can do.”
Monkey pox can be spread from person to person through direct contact with infected rashes, scabies, or bodily fluids. It can also be spread through the respiratory tract during prolonged, face-to-face contact or during intimate physical contact such as kissing, caressing or sex, the CDC says.
A child who came to DC last month was diagnosed with monkeypox. Another child in California was also infected.
According to Fauci, five children were infected a second time. “Does that mean every parent in the country should be scared? A horse. Pay attention to this, but do not be afraid of it,” he said.
“You can never eliminate an infection that has started, but you don’t know where it’s going. So you pay attention to it, follow it, and respond to it accordingly.”
WTOP’s Luke Garrett and Megan Cloherty contributed to this report.