While the World Health Organization has declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, the Biden administration has not issued a nationwide public health emergency declaration.
California is the third and largest state to issue a statewide declaration related to the disease. New York was the first to do so.
“Expanding the pool of eligible vaccinators will substantially aid current efforts and support anticipated further vaccination efforts upon receipt of additional doses from the federal government,” the proclamation said.
“California is working urgently across all levels of government to slow the spread of monkeypox, leveraging our robust testing, contact tracing and community partnerships strengthened during the pandemic to ensure that those most at risk are our focus for vaccines, treatment and outreach,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a news release.
California has received more than 61,000 vaccine doses so far and distributed more than 25,000, according to the governor’s news release. Los Angeles County has received its own vaccine allocation, and state officials said California will make additional allocations in the coming weeks.
“We’ll continue to work with the federal government to secure more vaccines, raise awareness about reducing risk, and stand with the LGBTQ community fighting stigmatization,” the California governor said.
California has been using testing, contact tracing and vaccine infrastructure built for the Covid-19 pandemic to respond to monkeypox outbreaks, Newsom’s office said.
The CDC has made the antiviral prescription drug tecovirimat available for monkeypox patients at risk of severe disease, but access is limited in California. Now, the treatment can be administered at more than 30 facilities and providers across the state, officials said.
California has also expanded its monkeypox testing capacity and can process more than 1,000 tests a week, according to Newsom.
In mid-July, California’s health department requested 600,000 to 800,000 additional monkeypox vaccine doses to help expand eligibility to both confirmed and probable exposures, as well as to high-risk individuals.
The health department is “hopeful the federal government will deliver additional vaccine to meet the state’s request,” it said in a news release Friday.
As of last week, the US Department of Health and Human Services had delivered more than 336,000 doses of Jynneos — an FDA-approved vaccine created for smallpox and monkeypox — from the strategic national stockpile.
Health authorities throughout the country have been focused on education efforts to inform Americans about how monkeypox spreads.
A large number of cases in this outbreak have been in men who have sex with men, including gay and bisexual men, and public health officials are focusing their prevention efforts on this group. The virus is not unique to this community, but the nature of its close-contact spread has led to a disproportionate impact.
“Our team is also committed to reducing stigma among the LGBTQ community, which has been singled out and treated unfairly because of this outbreak. No single individual or community is to blame for the spread of any virus. Monkeypox can affect anyone as it spreads by skin-to-skin contact, as well as from sharing items like clothing, bedding and towels,” California Public Health Officer Dr. Tomás Aragón said in a Friday statement.
Following the emergency declaration in California, Equality California, a major LGBT rights nonprofit organization, applauded the governor’s move, noting in a statement that the virus “continues to disproportionately affect gay, bisexual and queer men here in California and across the country.”
Earlier Monday, state Sen. Scott Wiener, who represents San Francisco, and members of the LGBTQ caucus called on Newsom to issue $38.5 million in an emergency budget appropriation to support local monkeypox response.
CNN’s Andi Babineau and Cheri Mossburg contributed to this report.