CDC Chief: Racial disparity in monkeypox vaccine distribution

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WILMINGTON, DELAWARE - DECEMBER 08: Dr. Rochelle Walensky, President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to head the Centers for Disease Control, speaks during a news conference at the Queen Theater December 08, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. With the novel coronavirus pandemic continuing to ravage the country with daily records for infections and deaths, members of Biden's health team said they will make fighting COVID-19 the priority. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WILMINGTON, DELAWARE – DECEMBER 08: Dr. Rochelle Walensky, President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to head the Centers for Disease Control, speaks during a news conference at the Queen Theater on December 08, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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UPDATED 2:50 PM PT – Saturday, August 27, 2022

New data from the CDC suggests that monkeypox cases are on the decline in the United States. While speaking at a virtual conference on Friday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said she was cautiously optimistic about these reports.

“We have started to see globally that we may be turning a corner,” Dr. Walensky said. “We in the United States had our first case about two weeks after some of the European countries that we have also started to see turn around and, as you note, or turned downward. As you note, there are certain jurisdictions, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, that are starting to report that they’re starting to see a downward trend. I want to be cautiously optimistic about these, not only because of the downward trend, but because of the AMIS (American Men’s Internet Service) data that Dr. Daskalakis just noted.”

However, Walensky raised concerns about the so-called racial disparities in vaccine delivery despite the Biden administration saying they will have shipped at least three-million vaccines by the end of their next phase in addressing the outbreak. She pointed to several factors which included the lack of trust in public health initiatives from the federal government among other reasons.

“Now the administration data also show that among the first doses given, the majority of recipients have been adults age 25 to 39, with around 53% of first doses administered in this age group so far,” stated Walensky. “The majority of first dose recipients, 92% have been males, and 6% of doses have been administered to women. Regrettably, we at the CDC are not receiving data by gender and are unable to report it as such.”

Despite this, Walensky announced that the organization will begin promoting the equitable distribution of monkeypox vaccines and will work with communities to ensure their deliveries are to those who have a high risk of contracting the virus.

“Given the early evidence of racial and ethnic disparities in monkeypox vaccine administration, the CDC remains committed to reducing the impact of health disparities by collaborating with jurisdictions on provision of educational materials and promotion of equitable access to monkeypox vaccines,” the doctor said. “We’re also working with communities to provide vaccine and harm reduction education at large events attended by groups at highest risk for monkeypox right now.”

So far, over 17,000 monkeypox cases have been reported in the United States. The virus mainly spreads between men who have sex with other men, but recent reports from health officials suggested that it can spread to everyone.

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