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Walensky: More testing is needed for monkeypox

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Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, addressed the country's reaction to monkeypox in a Senate hearing on Wednesday. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/7a1a361b21f427af793d32bbc6c4bc6c/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, addressed the country's reaction to monkeypox in a Senate hearing on Wednesday. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 14 (UPI) -- Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said to a Senate committee on Wednesday that her agency is working with the community at a heightened level to get the monkeypox vaccines to those groups affected the most.

During the committee hearing, Walensky said the CDC needs to do more to expand testing for monkeypox. According to the latest CDC data, there have been 22,630 cases of monkeypox confirmed in the United States, with Texas, New York, California and Florida leading the way.

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Walensky said while monkeypox was not exclusive to the gay community, men who have sex with other men have been disproportionately affected by the disease.

"The CDC has been studying monkeypox for decades and has contributed to the tests, experimental therapeutics and vaccines that are available today," she said.

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"But as a relatively rare disease, almost no providers in the U.S. have seen or even heard of monkeypox. Provider education has been a key component, and indeed a remarkable challenge, but critical to our response."

Walensky said the CDC has issued four different health advisories reaching more than one million people each. She added that the agency has worked with its partners to expand testing capacity while admitting it was still working to make testing more available.

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Walensky said more than 540,000 vaccines have been administered so far.

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"Collaborations with communities most affected by the outbreak, including the LGBTQ-plus community, is critical to our response," she said. "In recent weeks the CDC has provided technical support and vaccination" at large events serving LGBTQ-plus audiences in hopes to slow the spread of the disease.

Walesnky was joined at the hearing by President Joe Biden's medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci and Federal Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf.

The monkeypox discussion veered off course with the ongoing questioning from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., of Fauci. This time, Paul aggressively questioned Fauci about allowing children to be vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine multiple times and not accounting for protection that comes from a previous infection.

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Fauci pushed back on Paul's comments, saying that the vaccine rules were approved by the FDA and CDC advisory committees, and he never had the sole authority to make vaccine approval or rules in his capacity.

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