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As monkeypox cases decline in the U.S., White House focuses on vaccine equity

The CDC has opened applications for the Monkeypox Vaccine Equity Pilot Program to reach populations that may face barriers to receiving the vaccine.

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — New monkeypox case numbers in the United States are down nearly 50% since early August. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of Sept. 14, there have been more than 59,600 cases detected globally in 103 countries; nearly 23,000 cases have been identified across all 50 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. 

According to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), as of Sept. 15 there have been 165 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the state. 

"Over the last several weeks we have been pleased to see a decline in the growth of new cases here and abroad, though there are areas of the U.S. where the rate of rise in new cases is still increasing. We approach this news with cautious optimism," said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC director. 

During a press briefing Thursday morning, the White House monkeypox response team credited the decline to their many efforts, including education on monkeypox. 

A main focus now is on vaccine equity. 

"We're also seeing that monkeypox cases are concentrating in gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men of color while as you heard, most vaccines have been administered to white men," said Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, White House monkeypox response deputy coordinator. 

While anyone can get monkeypox, Dr. Walensky said the racial and ethnic makeup of the outbreak has evolved. 

The CDC has been able to receive data on race and ethnicity for over 91% of the first doses reported.

RELATED: The Aliveness Project offers free monkeypox vaccines at new clinic event

For example, non-Hispanic Black men represented 38% of cases in the last week, but had only received 12% of first doses of the vaccine. 

Latino or Hispanic men represented 25% of cases, while non-Hispanic white men represented 26% of cases.

"Among these first doses reported, those who are white represent about 47% of people who received their first dose. Those who are Hispanic, represent about 21%," Dr. Walensky explained. 

The White House's first pilot program involved offering vaccinations and education at large LGBTQ+ events across the country. Monkeypox vaccines were administered to over 10,000 people. 

The CDC opened applications Thursday for the Monkeypox Vaccine Equity Pilot Program to reach populations that may face barriers to receiving the vaccine.

"Health departments will use their local experience and connection to the community to identify hyper-local strategies to improve vaccine access to communities of color, specifically those that are overrepresented in this outbreak," Dr. Daskalakis said. 

Up to 50,000 doses of JYNNEOS vaccine have been allocated for the Monkeypox Vaccine Equity Pilot Program. 

According to an MDH spokesperson, they just heard about the program Thursday and have received some initial information, but will need more details and time to review. 

However, the spokesperson said MDH is certainly interested in any project that can help further their goals of health equity. 

Since Sept. 13, 5,429 doses have been administered to Minnesotans. 

RELATED: Yes, there has been a confirmed monkeypox death in the U.S.

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