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Dr. Jerome Adams: monkeypox vaccine; restoring trust in CDC amid COVID

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana hit a milestone Wednesday surpassing 100 confirmed cases of monkeypox; the number now stands at 101.

In this segment of Health Spotlight, News 8 brings in WISH-TV’s medical expert and former surgeon general Dr. Jerome Adams to discuss the government’s monkeypox vaccine rollout plan as cases rise and demand for the shot increases.

Plus, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is planning a major overhaul after director Dr. Rochelle Walensky admits a flawed COVID response. Will this restore trust in the agency? Check out the conversation below.

Dr. Mary Gillis: Dr. Adams, you were on the Trump administration health team during the COVID response. I want to get your take on the changes to the CDC. Why haven’t these happened already? 

Dr. Jerome Adams: These changes are long overdue and they’re related to a number of issues. One of them is internal culture. Director Walensky acknowledged they need to do a better job of releasing data more quickly and translating that science into practical steps for the public– not academic recommendations, but real practical recommendations. Number two is chronic underfunding of public health. We need more staff and different types of staff. Finally, we know there’s always influence from the White House. This was true in both administrations. We need to get the politics out of the CDC so they can do their job.

Gillis: When can we expect the overhaul to be completed and will it be enough to restore the public’s trust in the agency? 

Adams: I’ll take those in reverse order. I hope it will help restore trust in the agency. But as I mentioned earlier this doesn’t just depend on the CDC and director Walensky. It depends on Congress and the funding being allocated for them to do it. I would also say that I don’t expect any big changes before the midterm election 

Gillis: Let’s talk about monkeypox. Latest numbers from the CDC show there are more than 13,000 confirmed cases in the U. S. Indiana hit a milestone Wednesday passing 100. Why is it so important to get the vaccine out now? Monkeypox isn’t considered a life threatening virus, correct? 

Adams: There actually have been a few deaths reported due to monkeypox around the world. But as you mentioned it’s not deaths that we’re mostly worried about. We’re worried about the fact that this can cause a real disfiguring rash and scarring for people. Some horrific pictures have been floating around out there, particularly of immunocompromised individuals who’ve gotten monkeypox. It’s important to remember that there are things other than death that you don’t want. Monkeypox can be incredibly painful for people when they have these lesions. Getting the vaccine out there as quickly as possible will help protect the people who are at risk. And it will also help us get control of this virus and get back to a place where monkeypox isn’t a regular part of our life in this country.

Gillis: This has been a big week for you. I know you spent time with some big names from the NFL talking about mental health. Talk to me about your experience and what we need to do to end the mental health crisis in our country. 

Adams: We truly do have a mental health crisis in this country. We know that children between the ages of 10 to 24 saw a tremendous increase in suicide attempts. It’s the number one cause of death for that age group. I’m partnering with the pro Football Hall of Famers like Steve Atwater and Charles Haley to help lower the stigma around mental health. You wouldn’t feel ashamed to tell someone you sprained your ankle and need physical therapy. So we shouldn’t be ashamed to tell someone if we’re depressed and need to see a counselor. If we can lower that stigma, we can help people understand that mental health is an important part of overall health. We’ll see less suicides and less overdose deaths, which have also reached yet another tragic record last year. Then I think we’ll be in a better place as a society.