Even as DC reports a steady decline in new cases, local public health experts are fine-tuning their approach to weaponizing the monkeypox vaccine.

Anil Mangla, state epidemiologist at DC Health, said in an interview on Friday that new cases of monkeypox have fallen an average of 20% per week since peaking in mid-July. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified trends in several states with large outbreaks, including New York and California.

“There’s a light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to monkeypox in DC,” Mangla said. “The number of cases could spike as students return to campus.”

With demand for the vaccine waning in the district, officials said last month to reduce the stigma associated with the virus that has overwhelmingly affected men who have sex with men but can infect anyone. , expanded the qualifications and corrected the procedure. Virginia expanded its eligibility guidelines shortly after DC, despite a national vaccine shortage and federal approval of an intradermal injection method to extend doses.

months later As of Thursday, nearly 20,000 people in the United States had tested positive, according to federal data, amid a global monkeypox epidemic. Data show there were 436 cases in the district as of Thursday, 534 in Maryland and 353 in Virginia as of Friday.

Districts that received more vaccines than their neighbors received nearly 24,000 doses of Gynneos, the only vaccine approved to treat monkeypox.

Lunchtime was sparse at one of the three walk-up clinics held every Friday. Over the course of an hour, the two men spoke to The Washington Post on condition of anonymity. To protect my privacy — I received the first dose of a two-dose regimen.

One man said, “I was a little sad that I couldn’t meet people here.” He was encouraged to make an appointment for him after pre-registering online, but said it was easier to go to the walk-up clinic on his own schedule.

Although he praised the smooth process, he suspected that demand had fallen because people didn’t know where to get the vaccine or couldn’t access the site.

DC Following CDC guidance, Public Health has removed intrusive questions from the registration process, making vaccines available to everyone regardless of sexual orientation or gender who has had multiple sexual partners in the past two weeks. .

Officials ‘cautiously optimistic’ about declining monkeypox cases

To learn from the experience of deploying a coronavirus vaccine, they are also quickly Engaged community partners to host health clinics for underserved populations.Black people also make up a significant percentage A segment of people diagnosed positive for monkeypox across the region.

In the district, whites account for approximately 37% of cases and blacks account for 36%. According to city data, 55% of those vaccinated are white and 20% are black. Maryland case data show that blacks account for 58% of cases, whites account for 16% of hers, and 20% go unreported. In Virginia, 39% of reported cases are black and 26% are white, although whites are much more likely to be vaccinated.

The Biden administration on Friday asked Congress for more than $4.5 billion in emergency funding to combat monkeypox, as part of a broader $47 billion request.

The National Black Gay Men Advocacy Coalition, which includes Us Helping Us, a DC-based organization that provides medical, behavioral health, and social services to black gay and bisexual men and black transgender women, supports the public. Applauded the federal government’s efforts to strengthen its hygiene response.

“The U.S. public health response has been slow to recognize the impact of MPV in black gay and bisexual men. said in a statement. “NBGMAC celebrates the resilience of black gay and bisexual men across the country who are actively seeking MPV testing, vaccination and treatment despite unacceptable shortages and other structural barriers, I applaud you.”

Public health officials in Maryland launched a pre-registration system for the monkeypox vaccine this week. The state has received 14,539 vaccinations, delivered 3,470, and has over 11,000 missing.

While infection rates are declining in some states with large outbreaks and DC, the CDC reports this week that some states, including Virginia, are “experiencing accelerated growth.” Did.

Virginia data show that Virginia has 7,741 doses, most of which are in Northern Virginia, the most populous state and the highest concentration of cases.

Stuart Ray, a professor of medicine in the Department of Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins University, said the country as a whole needs more vaccines and not enough tests to catch all cases. .

“When people are worried about catching monkeypox at the grocery store, I say if they don’t hug or kiss six shoppers, they’ll probably be fine.” It’s not a virus, but there are ways to control the risk.”

Monkeypox is spread primarily through close skin-to-skin contact.

Places like D.C. may be recording a decline in case numbers and vaccine demand, but he said that, like coronavirus, monkeypox can spread to unprepared areas. said.

“This is one of the reasons I don’t want to be a CDC director,” Ray said. “Great preparation makes it look mediocre. The challenge here is that it may be smoldering, but it could continue next year and which direction this virus is going. I don’t know.”

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