Multiple reports show that the virus is particularly spreading through communities of homosexual and bisexual men. Fenton accordingly said during a teleconference that local governments can target vaccination efforts toward such communities.
“Today we’re announcing that states and localities will be able to request and receive additional vaccines to support vaccination efforts at large LGBT events in the coming weeks and months,” Fenton explained. “HHS is launching a pilot program that will provide up to 50,000 doses from the national stockpile to be made available for Pride and other events that will have high attendance of gay and bisexual men. These doses will be on top of jurisdictions’ existing allocations and supply of vaccine.”
Multiple states have officially declared emergencies as the virus continues to spread. In particular, San Francisco and New York City have thus far been epicenters, with nearly half of outbreaks occurring in California, New York, and Illinois.
Monkeypox can spread through skin to skin contact that often happens through hugging, kissing, extended face-to-face contact, and sexual intercourse, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms include fever, headache, cough, sore throat, and nasal congestion, as well as painful rashes and blisters.
The Biden administration has ordered over four million doses of monkeypox vaccines to manage the outbreak as of early July, including a $120 million purchase of 500,000 doses in June. According to Fenton, the strategy to “meet people where they are” is an “important” and “innovative” approach to combating the virus.
The city of San Francisco — which currently has 610 reported cases of the virus — has drawn criticism for recently holding the “Up Your Alley” annual festival popular among homosexual men despite its local health emergency declaration. The event features kink demonstrations, dancing, and shopping.
Some Democratic lawmakers have claimed that asking homosexual men to refrain from having intercourse constitutes latent stigma toward the group. “If people want to have sex, they are going to have sex,” California State Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat who represents San Francisco, explained. “I know people who normally go to sex parties who will not. People will make their own decisions about their own risk levels.”
The Biden administration recently estimated that $7 billion could be necessary to combat monkeypox, according to a memo obtained by The Washington Post. The document followed more than 100 Democrats in the House of Representatives writing a letter to Biden requesting additional public health funds.
“We write to commend your administration’s recent actions to increase supplies of monkeypox vaccines and improve testing and laboratory capacity across the country,” the letter stated. “We respectfully request additional funding to support health clinics as they work to implement this federal monkeypox response.”
Meanwhile, the Biden administration plans to stop paying for COVID vaccines and will begin shifting costs toward the private marketplace, according to a Thursday report from The Wall Street Journal. The Department of Health and Human Services will hold a planning session at the end of the month with pharmaceutical companies and state health departments to chart the transition — a move that could result in higher profits for Pfizer and Moderna, which, along with other pharmaceutical companies, have earned more than $79 billion in global sales from COVID treatments.