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Gavin Newsom Declares California a State of Emergency for Smallpox

Gavin Newsom Declares California a State of Emergency for Smallpox
Image: Twitter CA Public Health

On Monday afternoon, Governor Gavin Newsom decreed California a State of Emergency for smallpox as part of the state's ongoing response to the smallpox outbreak and to strengthen vaccination efforts for Californians.

"California is working urgently at all levels of government to curb the spread of monkeypox, leveraging our strong evidence, contact tracing and community partnerships strengthened during the pandemic to ensure that those most at risk are our focus for vaccines, treatment and outreach," Newsom said. 

"We will continue to work with the federal government to secure more vaccines, raise awareness about risk reduction and support the LGBTQ+ community in the fight against stigmatization," he added.

The proclamation will allow Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel to administer Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved monkeypox vaccines similar to the recently enacted statutory authorization for pharmacists to administer vaccines. 

The state's response to simian pox, he said, builds on the infrastructure developed during the COVID-19 pandemic to implement vaccine clinics and ensure inclusive and targeted outreach in partnership with local and community organizations.

Last month, California public health leaders urged federal partners to make more vaccine doses available to the state as quickly as possible so the state can expand eligibility to both confirmed and probable exposures, as well as people at high risk of contracting the virus. 

To date, the state has distributed more than 25,000 doses of vaccine and will make additional allocations in the coming days and weeks, according to a government statement issued Monday. However, in total, California has received 61,000 doses.

It should be noted that Los Angeles County has received a separate allocation of vaccines. 

The state is also supporting overall vaccination efforts in collaboration with locals, including helping to provide staff and mobile clinics, as well as allocating doses to local health departments based on a number of factors, including the number of reported cases of monkeypox in an area and estimated populations at risk.  

As of July 28, the state had expanded its testing capacity to process more than 1,000 per week. 

State public health laboratory leaders have been working with local academic, commercial and public health laboratories to ensure that testing capacity is increasingly available and coordinated with the public health response. 

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is also expanding treatment options. Access to the prescription antiviral drug tecovirimat ?TPOXX? used to treat "monkeypox" is limited, but it can now be administered at more than 30 facilities and providers across the state, the document noted.

Finally, he noted that the state continues outreach and education efforts to inform Californians about smallpox and ways to limit its spread, noting that it has hosted multiple webinars for local health departments, community organizations and other health care providers and has attended several town halls and community meetings to speak and listen to local and public leaders. 

In turn, CDPH is also scheduling listening sessions with the LGBTQ+ community and is running advertising campaigns on various digital media platforms to promote awareness and engage communities most at risk for monkeypox.

It should be noted that only on July 30, New York State declared a State of Emergency due to the same disease, while the city of San Francisco did so on July 28.

You may be interested in: New York declares a State of Emergency due to smallpox

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