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Opinion
Lisa Jarvis

US Declares Monkeypox a Health Emergency, Finally

The FDA is laying out a new strategy to extend vaccine supplies. But the approach doesn’t go far enough to understand how well the vaccine works.

A pop-up monkeypox vaccination clinic in West Hollywood, California.

A pop-up monkeypox vaccination clinic in West Hollywood, California.

Photographer: Mario Tama/Getty

As monkeypox cases in the US climbed to more than 7,100, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra declared the outbreak a public health emergency. It’s long past time.

The formality came almost two weeks after the World Health Organization had officially deemed it an emergency — and days after individual states, including California, Illinois, and New York, had made their own call on the virus.

In theory, the US has had all the right tools — tests, treatments, and vaccines — to stem the spread of monkeypox. But access to all three, whether due to confusion around cumbersome administrative processes or insufficient supplies, has been frustratingly limited. Meanwhile, cases continue to multiply.