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NYC health officials look to rename monkeypox over stigma in communities of color

NYC officials call for "monkeypox" to be renamed
NYC officials call for "monkeypox" to be renamed 02:02

NEW YORK -- There's a growing concern about the name "monkeypox" and the stigma it may create. 

CBS2's Alecia Reid says New York City officials are demanding the name of the disease be changed immediately. 

As the number of monkeypox cases continues to rise, the New York City Department of Health sent a letter to the World Health Organization demanding the disease be renamed, saying the virus does not originate in monkeys, and may stigmatize vulnerable populations. 

Councilman Erik Bottcher from Manhattan's District 3 says that can be triggering. 

"Just like the name 'Spanish Flu,' these names have a loaded meaning. And when we talk about public health, that's not what we want to talk about. We want to talk about the facts, how people can protect themselves," Bottcher said. 

A month ago, the WHO said it would modify the name monkeypox, but so far it remains the same. With five deaths worldwide, a public health emergency had been declared. 

"My fear is that we might have missed the opportunity to eradicate this in the U.S> and this disease may be here to stay. We need to get shots in arms," Bottcher said. 

The virus can be spread through hugging, contaminated towels, or bedsheets. But the World Health Organization does not recommend vaccinations across the board - only for those at high risk for exposure, and health workers. 

"Since it's skin to skin, we just don't know where it can go. It's another emergency where only in New York and we know how to handle," said Hell's Kitchen district leader Marisa Redanty. 

The FDA approved a supplemental vaccine to prevent smallpox and monkeypox, which means an additional 786,000 doses are being made available. 

"It's imperative since we're at the epicenter that it comes to where it can be dampened. It only makes perfect sense," Redanty said. 

The Department of Health and Human Services is planning to announce allocations of the additional doses Thursday. 

Westchester County to host second monkeypox vaccine clinic 00:32

A second monkeypox vaccine clinic will be held in Westchester County due to overwhelming demand. Shots will be given at the Loft LGBTQ+ community center in White Plains on Aug. 4. Appointments for adults can be made from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Information on the second dose will be given to each vaccinated person after their first dose.

Earlier this week, Gov. Kathy Hochul approved and expanded a new way of testing across the state.   

Nearly 1,100 cases of the orthopox virus - possibly monkeypox - were found in New York City. The White House is considering declaring a public health emergency due to the skyrocketing transmission rates in big cities. 

"Once we, you know, realize that it was what was what was happening, the cases that we were seeing, there were more than 300,000 vaccines across the country in a matter of weeks. And we quickly ordered the production of five million more vaccines when we saw that the virus was starting to spread.," said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. 

While the virus is primarily impacting gay and bisexual men, anyone can get monkeypox.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are now nearly 2,900 confirmed cases in 44 states, including two children -- a toddler in California, and and infant in Washington, D.C.

"There's always been this worry that the more the transmission goes on and the more cases there are, the more it could potentially spill over into other groups," said Dr. Jimmy Whitworth, professor of international public health at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The virus spreads mainly through skin-to-skin contact, but can also be passed on through sheets or towels. It can cause a rash and flu-like symptoms. 

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