WASHINGTON — On Thursday, the White House held a virtual meeting with more than 1,000 college and university employees to help them prepare for the school year, when cases of monkeypox are expected to appear on campus.
The Biden administration’s monkeypox and COVID-19 response teams and representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discussed “best practices and measures that colleges and universities should take to contain the spread” of monkeypox as well as the coronavirus.
“Federal officials offered practical advice on how to keep higher education institutions safe this fall, including strategies colleges can use to detect and stop the spread of monkeypox, and answered questions about how to respond to cases of monkeypox and communicate clearly to students about vaccines, testing and treatment,” the White House said in a statement announcing the meeting.
The Capital-Star’s Washington bureau reached out to major public colleges and universities last week there were no significant plans about how they handle students diagnosed with monkeypox.
There was little clarity on how they would help on-campus students self-isolate, whether faculty would be advised to provide distance learning for students who test positive, or what those living in dorms or other nearby housing should do if a roommate is tested positive. diagnosis
At Thursday’s meeting, federal officials, none of whom were named by the White House, urged college and university administrations to also encourage their campus communities to keep up-to-date information on COVID-19 vaccinations.
New CDC website
The meeting with higher education officials, whom the White House declined to name in its reading, came on the same day the CDC announced new site to provide information about monkeypox specifically for college students.
The website notes that “vaccination is an important tool in preventing the spread of monkeypox. But given the current limited supply of the vaccine, consider temporarily changing some behaviors that may increase the risk of infection.”
The federal government’s rollout of the Jynneos vaccine, approved to treat monkeypox and its cousin smallpox, has been slow and falls short of the number of vaccines that health officials would like to contain the outbreak.
Washington, D.C. Sen. Patty Murray, chairwoman of the Public Health Committee, sent a letter To Dawn O’Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the US Department of Health and Human Services, this week asking about the pace of vaccine rollout.
“The administration must do more to address the current unacceptable vaccine supply shortfall, implement comprehensive distribution and communication strategies, and develop long-term procurement plans,” Murray wrote.
Murray noted that slow procurement “has led to an alarming shortage of JYNNEOS vaccine supplies, which risks undermining the United States’ ability to combat the monkeypox outbreak.”
Monkeypox began spreading across the United States this year after a Massachusetts man was diagnosed on May 17.
The virus, which is transmitted through close intimate contact, has since increased to more than 16,600 in each state. The Biden administration declared a public health emergency earlier this month.
Cases of monkeypox in the United States this year are characterized by a rash or lesions in nearly 99% of people diagnosed, according to the CDC. Most people also experienced fatigue, fever, chills, headache, enlarged lymph nodes, muscle aches and itching.
While anyone can contract monkeypox, CDC Director Rochelle Wallensky said during a briefing last week that about 98% of cases are now in men and that “among cases with known recent sexual history and sex, 93% of cases were among men who reported recent sexual contact with other men.”
Monkeypox can take two to four weeks to heal, and this time can cause significant disruption to any student who is diagnosed and must be isolated until all lesions have cleared and a new layer of skin has been replaced.