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Ayanna Pressley, Seth Moulton lead call to Charlie Baker to declare monkeypox a public health emergency, as Massachusetts reports 45 new cases

Boston Herald - 8/11/2022

The state’s congressional legislators are calling on Gov. Charlie Baker to declare the growing monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency, as state health officials on Thursday reported another one-week high of 45 new cases.

With the Bay State reporting the 13th most monkeypox infections in the country, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and Congressman Seth Moulton led the federal delegation in urging Baker to declare the outbreak a public health emergency — one week after the Biden administration declared the virus a national public health emergency.

“By doing so at the state level, you will unlock resources to ensure that residents receive the urgent and robust response the moment demands,” the legislators wrote to Baker.

“By declaring a public health emergency, you will have greater flexibility and more tools to enact a whole-of-government response,” they added. “There are more than 26,000 vaccines allocated to the Commonwealth, and it is important that you act quickly to prevent the MPV outbreak from escalating.”

The 45 new cases in the Bay State are up from 42 cases during the previous week, which had been the state’s one-week record high. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has now reported 202 total cases since mid-May.

Meanwhile, the Boston Public Health Commission on Thursday reminded residents of monkeypox prevention strategies. BPHC said vaccine doses are limited, but are available to eligible individuals.

“The JYNNEOS vaccine is an important tool in our efforts to curb the spread of monkeypox in our communities and to keep people safe,” said Bisola Ojikutu, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “A key focus of our response to this outbreak is to ensure the vaccine is accessible to all residents who need it.”

The JYNNEOS vaccine is FDA-approved to prevent monkeypox infection. The CDC recommends that the vaccine be given within four days of exposure to prevent the onset of symptoms. Receiving the vaccine within five to 14 days of exposure can reduce the symptoms, but may not prevent them entirely.

Given the limited national supply of vaccine, first doses will be prioritized for as many people as possible, according to the Massachusetts Department of Health. People who are vaccinated should continue to protect themselves by avoiding skin-to-skin contact, including intimate contact with someone who has monkeypox.

Monkeypox spreads primarily through close contact with infectious sores, scabs, or body fluids. It can also be spread through touching objects that have been used by someone with monkeypox and respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact.

Monkeypox can spread during intimate contact like sex, kissing or touching parts of the body with sores, but the risk of monkeypox is not limited to people who are sexually active.

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