AUSTIN (KXAN) — The City of Austin added an emergency item to its workshop agenda Thursday to further address the spread of monkeypox. It comes a few days after the City and Travis County jointly declared monkeypox a public health emergency.
The council voted to declare monkeypox a local state of disaster. Only Councilmember Mackenzie Kelly voted no. Local declarations often clear red tape for the state and federal government to send additional resources and allow for a freeing up of funding.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler explained the declaration urges the community to educate themselves and take precautions, lines the city up for reimbursement of funding and communicates urgency of the situation to the federal government.
Local leaders have expressed frustration with the number of resources the federal government is allocating to fight the spread of monkeypox, notably vaccines.
“Vaccine is limited, it’s currently not available for pre-exposure methods,” Austin Public Health Director Adrienne Sturrup said.
As it stands right now, only the following people are eligible to be vaccinated, according to APH:
- You have made intimate, prolonged contact with someone who has a confirmed case of monkeypox
- You have had multiple sexual partners in the past 14 days in an area where monkeypox is known to be spreading, including Austin
Even with strict eligibility requirements set by the state of Texas and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, APH is still not going to be able to vaccinate everyone in that high-risk criteria.
“By the end of the week, we’ll be down to approximately 100 courses or 200 doses of the vaccine,” Dr. Desmar Walkes, the local health authority, said. The vaccines being used for monkeypox are given in two doses.
The item is was discussed prior to Thursday’s Austin City Council budget work session. You can watch here.