- The Florida Department of Health is working to secure additional vaccine supplies in an effort to treat the ongoing monkeypox outbreak
- Florida has more cases than any other state, making up 10 percent of all known cases in the country
- Broward and Palm Beach Counties are struggling to keep up with vaccine demands
- Rep. Charlie Crist contacted the Biden administration seeking an updated structure to the federal government’s response
Following a quick spike in cases across the state, the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) has requested additional monkeypox vaccines in an attempt to slow the outbreak. The department reported that Florida has the highest case count of any state, incubating 10 percent of all positive tests in the nation.
FDOH is working to provide vaccines to the counties with the highest rate of infection, like Broward and Palm Beach. With more than 300 cases between the two counties, vaccine supply is struggling to keep pace with the demand. According to state health data, monkeypox, typically endemic to Central and West Africa, has been found in twelve Floridian counties.
“Thus far, the number of cases identified in 2022 surpasses the five-year average of meningococcal disease cases in Florida,” the Pinellas County branch of the FDOH said in a release. “Epidemiologists are investigating each case as well as contacting people with potential or direct exposure to known cases to provide them with information and treatment options.”
Though the uptick in cases captured the attention of medical professionals, FDOH isn’t sounding the alarm bells just yet. Most densely concentrated in South Florida, experts caution that contact with an infected individual is needed to contract.
Human-to-human transmission generally requires prolonged, face-to-face contact, direct contact with an active rash, or indirect contact with an active rash through contaminated items, such as worn clothing. Thus, the risk of exposure remains low, according to FDOH.
“This is a serious disease caused by bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis. Fortunately, these bacteria are not as contagious as germs that cause the common cold or flu,” the statement continued. “People do not catch the bacteria through casual contact or by breathing air where someone with meningococcal disease has been. It requires close contact over a period of time or direct contact such as kissing or sharing drinks.”
Amid reports of the Floridian vaccine supply not keeping with demand, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist penned a letter to President Joe Biden urging rapid improvements to the federal response to the growing outbreak in Florida.
“I have heard the same concerns over and over again from constituents, friends, community leaders, and providers across Florida. People can’t get tested, can’t get vaccinated, and can’t get any answers,” said Crist. “We spent the first year of the COVID pandemic fighting a disease we couldn’t treat or vaccinate against. Well, guess what? For Monkeypox, we HAVE a vaccine, we HAVE treatment, and we HAVE tests. We can – and must – be doing more to keep this illness from spreading.”
Crist’s suggestions include the instating of a monkeypox czar, the implementation of a centralized agency, and an improvement of tracing and testing. Crist compared the current state of monkeypox to the early stages of COVID-19 in February 2020, claiming that the virus was able to rapidly spread due to a lack of early testing and identification.
“We all know that COVID-19 effectively seeded the United States in February 2020 due to a lack of early, targeted testing and tracing. Similarly, Monkeypox has been spreading throughout the United States for the last two months,” Crist wrote. “I am hearing from constituents who suspect they’ve been exposed to Monkeypox but cannot get a Monkeypox test until they’ve tested negative for every other possible pathogen. By the time a positive Monkeypox test is returned, it is too late for treatment, too late for post-exposure prophylaxis, and too late for useful contact tracing. The publishing of timely, detailed, location-based data on positive tests and vaccine administration is imperative for preventing the spread.”