Gov. JB Pritzker has asked the head of the US Department of Health and Human Services to "take more aggressive action to counter the monkeypox virus outbreak" in the country, specifically in areas like Chicago, where outbreaks have become significant, the governor said Thursday.
"We know that a swift response is essential when confronting outbreaks of disease," Pritzker said in a statement. "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."
Pritzker's team said the Illinois governor directed 4,600 doses of vaccine to Chicago from the statewide allocation. Illinois has the third-highest number of reported monkeypox cases, Pritzker said in a letter to Secretary Xavier Becerra, with most cases reported in Chicago.
"Despite our efforts in Illinois to limit the spread of this virus, we are experiencing a steady increase in cases," said Acting Illinois Department of Public Health 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.”
Chicago has received about 3,300 vaccine doses from the federal government, Pritzker said. In addition, the state received about 2,300 doses for local health departments outside of Chicago.
"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," Pritzker said. "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."
Pritzker said Illinois vaccination and prevention efforts are being prioritized by local public health departments as cases grow.
More information about monkeypox is available at www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox.