Biden Administration Has No Plan for Monkeypox Vaccine Access in Prisons

Aziza Ahmed describes it a public health catastrophe: A lot of people living in tight quarters, insufficient healthcare, staff coming to and going, and no vaccines.

Ahmed is a Boston University Professor of Law and an expert in legal issues related to health. Ahmed is one of a number of public health experts who voice concerns about the federal response. monkeypoxIn prisons and jails.

“At least at a minimum, [monkeypox] will require vaccines and personal protective equipment and places to isolate or quarantine,” said Ahmed. “Vaccines are really the baseline.”

Last month, the Biden administration declared the monkeypox virus— which is primarily spread by skin-to-skin contact— a public health emergency. Although anyone can transmit the virus to others, it has been most prevalent in men who have sex. Experts say that is also likely to be the case behind bars, where thousands are crowded into tight facilities and sex is often traded for safety, and in many cases prisoners in laundry facilities must wash each other’s bedding and clothing.

Officials have confirmed that the Biden Administration has no plans to require or administer vaccines to prevent monkeypox spreading behind bars. The 19th.

Send an email The 19thRandilee Giamusso, Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), stated that federal prisons won’t vaccinate incarcerated people unless they have been exposed to monkeypox due to limited supplies. The Department of Justice declined comment on plans to make vaccine access mandatory in state prisons and county jails. It stated that it was up to the individual to decide if they were able to get them.

“BOP health care staff continue to monitor inmate patients for signs of monkeypox infection and are prepared to offer vaccination as clinically indicated by current CDC guidelines,” Giamusso said.

Federal prisons had not reported any cases of monkeypox as of Aug. 10. Cook County Jail in Chicago — one of the country’s largest single-site jails — reported its first case at the end of July.

Vaccinating people who have been exposed is an effective way to prevent them becoming ill and spreading the virus. Dr. Joshua Barocas, associate professor of Medicine and infectious diseases physician at University of Colorado School of Medicine, stated that vaccinations are effective in preventing the spread of the virus.

“But this is a conditional situation in which you know that you’ve been exposed,” Barocas added. “If you’re in a jail or prison setting, in close contact, sharing bedding, you might be cleaning somebody else’s bedding, sharing utensils, and certainly there is sexual activity happening in jails and prisons. By not being proactive in this community, we’re ignoring a potentially high-risk venue for spread.”

Although fabric-to-skin contact is considered low-risk for spreading monkeypox in general, experts are concerned about the possibility of contagion in prisons where prisoners must wash hundreds to thousands of sheets.

It is unclear if there will be any vaccine supplies for those in federal and county prisons. Supplies of the monkeypox vaccination remain limitedPriority in most parts of the country has been given to these people. considered highest risk for infectionQueer men, men with sex with men, transgender and nonbinary persons who have had multiple and/or anonymous partners in recent weeks.

Health experts shared their opinions The 19thOffering vaccines in prisons can help the incarcerated and those working in prisons as well as the general public. Drs. Drs. Eric Reinhart and Daniel Chen discovered that 13 percent of Chicago’s COVID-19 cases from March 2020, when the pandemic first struck there, could be traced back to Cook County Jail.

Reinhart, a Harvard and Northwestern University physician and anthropologist, believes that prisons and jails can be used as a powder keg for pandemics.

“Ultimately, this doesn’t just affect incarcerated people who deserve care and attention and proper preventative measures, but it also affects broader populations,” they said. “Mass incarceration is fundamentally incompatible with public health and it doesn’t just put people who are incarcerated at risk, it puts the entire U.S. population at risk.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published monkeypox on August 4. guidance for prisons and jailsThis recommends frequent hand washing, isolation for those infected, and proper waste disposal in order to reduce the spread of the virus. There are no mentions of vaccines. Experts are also skeptical about the feasibility of social distancing within prisons and jails.

Barocas said that the guidance is lacking testing and screening protocols.

“You may not even know if your cellmate has monkeypox,” Barocas said. “They may not disclose because of fear of repercussions by jail or prison staff.”

Barocas stated that the greatest threat to prison walls is rapid spread of the virus, despite some concerns about mutations of it in prisons.

“If you let it go unmitigated because of some ridiculous notion that people in jails don’t deserve the same treatment as people out of jails, then you’re going to get unmitigated spread in the community,” he said. “These are literally incubators for the community.”