Press Release - Thursday, July 21, 2022
Governor Pritzker Calls on Federal Government to Increase Monkeypox Virus Vaccination Efforts
Chicago—Governor Pritzker called on Secretary Xavier Becerra, head of the US Department of Health and Human Services, to take more aggressive action to counter the monkeypox virus outbreak in the U.S. and further prioritize areas with the most significant outbreaks, like Chicago, in additional allocations of vaccines. The Governor has directed 4,600 doses of vaccine from the statewide allocation, to the City of Chicago, as Illinois cases continue to be predominantly located within the city.
Governor Pritzker's letter to Secretary Becerra, which was also sent to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky and Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O'Connell, outlined the lack of available vaccine in Chicago and Illinois as a whole despite being the state with the third-highest number of reported cases thus far.
"We know that a swift response is essential when confronting outbreaks of disease," said Governor JB Pritzker. "And we've learned in the last few years that most people are eager to protect themselves and their communities when given the tools to do so. We must give the public and health professionals every tool possible to counter the spread of monkeypox, which is why I'm urging the federal governments to take further action."
"Despite our efforts in Illinois to limit the spread of this virus, we are experiencing a steady increase in cases," said Acting IDPH Director Amaal Tokars. "The best defense against this disease is the rapid distribution of effective vaccines. While we are grateful for all the federal support we have received to date, we urge the federal government to make every effort to the extent possible to streamline the process and ramp up deliveries of vaccines so they can be promptly administered to the population that is most at risk."
Currently, Chicago has received approximately 3,300 vaccine doses from the federal government. Separately from the doses sent to Chicago, the state has received approximately 2,300 doses for local health departments outside of the city. IDPH has designated approximately 2,600 doses from its allocation to the City of Chicago which has reported 86% of the cases in the state. An additional 15,440 doses allotted for the City have yet to be delivered. The state will be providing an additional 2,000 doses for Chicago to distribute in upcoming weeks. The city and state are partnering on outreach and awareness efforts across Chicago and the state as a whole, to ensure at-risk Illinoisans have the information necessary to stay protected.
The vaccination and prevention effort in Illinois are being prioritized by local public health departments as case numbers grow. The Governor calls for a strong state-federal partnership in getting vaccines produced and distributed. The Governor's letter also notes that monkeypox is currently disproportionately affecting the LGBTQ community and specifically men who have sex with men, groups historically underserved and discriminated against during the HIV/AIDS crisis.
There are many causes of rash illness. However, if someone has a rash illness that they are concerned about they should talk with, or see, a health care provider about their symptoms. They should not have close contact with other individuals until they have seen a health provider if monkeypox is suspected. In general, people should avoid close, skin to skin contact with people who have a rash that might be monkeypox. More information is available at www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox