Sen. Shevrin Jones calls on CDC Director to expand monkeypox vaccine access

by | Aug 12, 2022


  • Sen. Shevrin Jones on Friday penned a letter to Center for Disease Control (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky urging an expansion of monkeypox vaccine access to Florida’s hardest-hit regions 
  • As of the most recently reported state data on Thursday, Florida has confirmed 1,085 infections of the virus 
  • Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Broward Counties have the highest case counts in the state 
  • Jones requested that Florida’s “historically neglected” communities receive access to vaccines and treatment
  • Gov. Ron DeSantis in early August stated that he would not declare a state of emergency over the outbreak

State Senator Shevrin Jones (D-Miami Gardens) on Friday called on Center for Disease Control (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky to expand accessibility to the monkeypox vaccine across Florida.

Shevrin’s letter to Walensky states that the monkeypox case count in Florida nearly doubled over the course of the past week, prompting health officials to ration vaccine supplies by administering just one of two necessary shots. As of the latest state data published on Thursday, Florida has 1,085 reported infections.

While the largest concentrations of known cases can be found in Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade Counties, the virus has been identified in more than 20 counties statewide.

“Sadly, the monkeypox virus is already rapidly spreading throughout our communities, and the vaccines will arrive too late for many,” said Jones. “Therefore, I call on you to work with other federal agencies to cut as much red tape as possible to speed the prescription and distribution of antiviral medications like TPOXX that can effectively treat the virus, but require significant paperwork and regulatory hurdles to prescribe.”

Last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis stated that he would not declare a public health emergency over the outbreak.

During a press conference, DeSantis stated that he sought to avoid stoking fear in Floridians while the case count for monkeypox remains relatively low. Referring to such states as New York and California, which did declare a state of emergency over the outbreak, the governor claimed that such measures would be used to “abuse emergency powers to restrict freedoms.”

The governor stated that anything dealt with from a public health perspective would be dealt with “facts, not fear,” but elected not to expand upon how the Department of Health is working to combat the outbreak.

“Any of the politicians trying to scare you about this, do not listen to their nonsense,” he said. “We’re not going to go back to Fauci in the ’80s trying to tell families they are going to catch AIDS by watching TV together. Anything we deal with from a public health perspective, we are not doing fear. We are going to do facts.”

Though the governor is electing not to invoke immediate action, a bevy of Florida leaders including Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried, Rep. Charlie Crist, and Jones are pushing the issue to the forefront of state politics.

Both Fried and Crist have urged local or federal agencies to enact preemptive measures to slow the virus’ spread.

Nikki Fried in early August held a press conference that focused on the virus spread through South Florida. In holding the event, Fried attacked DeSantis, stating on Twitter that she is speaking on the matter “because DeSantis won’t.”

Jones concluded his letter by focusing on the availability of vaccines for those that are in areas with poor accessibility or available locations.

As of this past Friday, the federal government has sent 65,960 doses of the Jynneos vaccine to Florida, according to available information. The federal government has delivered 109,284 doses to Floridians overall.

“Finally, I insist that additional facilities opened by the federal government or in conjunction with our local and state departments of health consider geographic diversity so that historically neglected communities … are not excluded from this response,” concluded Jones. “The people of Florida recognize that the federal government is managing several public health crises at once and are ready to support you at the local level in your management of this.”

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