SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – San Francisco is “running extremely low” on doses of the monkeypox vaccine Jynneos, the city’s department of public health stated in a press release midday Wednesday.
Zuckerberg San Francisco General has 50 remaining doses that it will administer today on a first-come-first-serve basis.
After that? The plan is to “shutter for the rest of the week or until new vaccine supplies arrive,” DPH stated.
“It is likely people will be turned away,” DPH continued. “Other SFDPH sites, such as SF City Clinic and the Adult Immunization and Travel Clinic, are working through remaining appointments and are also expected to run out of vaccines this week.”
Just yesterday San Francisco public health and gay community leaders blasted the federal government for what Supervisor Rafael Mandelman called its “abysmal” response to the outbreak, which is primarily affecting gay and bisexual men.
“Here we are, with cases rising and urgent action by federal public health institutions absent,” Mandelman stated. “Local officials, providers, and activists are left to beg for an adequate response – the response monkeypox would have received if it didn’t primarily affect queer people.”
The Biden administration has announced plans to have two million people vaccinated by the end of next year; a plan Mandelman said is not enough to meet the crisis.
The city has received just 2,888 monkeypox vaccines total out of 35,000 requested, DPH has told KRON4. Of those, 1,702 have been distributed by the department (a number that does not include those distributed by community partners, such as the Magnet clinic run by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation at Strut in the city’s Castro neighborhood).
DPH spokesperson Allison Hawkes couldn’t tell KRON4 how many vaccine doses are still waiting to be used there or at the DPH-run City Clinic in the south of Market neighborhood. But she did say both sites have long wait lists.
“City Clinic is working through appointments,” Hawkes said. “We’re giving them out as fast as we can and will be working through the remaining doses through the end of the week.”
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Also today, it was announced the number of reported monkeypox cases in San Francisco has increased from 60 to 68.
State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) echoed Mandelman’s statement from Tuesday in a press release.
“Due to a lack of vaccine supply — and what will continue to be a sluggish pace of vaccination due to limited supply going forward — we are veering toward a public health mess of uncontrolled monkeypox spread in our community and many other communities. Failure to control this outbreak will result in intense — and completely unnecessary — misery for many people, particularly gay and bisexual men,” he stated. “We need an enormous amount of additional vaccine doses, and we need it immediately. The federal government’s failures are threatening to deeply harm our community. Once we move past this emergency, we need accountability for these failures — failures that put people’s lives and health in jeopardy.”
Wiener stated that its been known a global outbreak was possible for a dozen years.
“We need to be very clear where the responsibility lies for this completely avoidable situation: the federal government,” Wiener stated. “As far back as 2010, public health experts were warning that it was inevitable that monkeypox would spread beyond West Africa. And in 2019, the FDA approved a safe and effective monkeypox vaccine. Yet, the United States government ordered a mere 56,000 vaccine doses (enough for 28,000 people) for the national vaccine stockpile and failed to order the millions of doses that should have been ordered in preparation for an inevitable outbreak. Moreover, the United States owns one million doses that are sitting in storage in Denmark because the FDA failed to conduct a prompt inspection of a new production facility — demonstrating a shocking lack of sense of urgency.”
What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
Symptoms of monkeypox include onset of flu-like symptoms and distinctive rashes or sores that could look like pimples or blisters.
While these red, flat spots which become bumps can be anywhere on the body, they are most likely in the genital or rectal areas, or at the fingers, mouth or eyes. The spots become bumps, which break and crust over into a scab. They may be itchy, but not necessarily.
Further, some people only get one or some of these symptoms; it is possible to have a fever but never a rash, or have these symptoms sequentially and not concurrently.
What is the monkeypox vaccine?
Getting a vaccine within 14 days of exposure can prevent or mitigate disease risk, as the incubation period can be weeks. Healthcare providers should test for other infections with similar symptoms, such as syphilis. Tests for monkeypox are confirmed at specialized labs. The monkeypox virus is in the orthopoxvirus family alongside smallpox, for which routine vaccination in the United States ended in 1972 after the disease was declared eradicated here. The smallpox vaccine is at least 85% effective against monkeypox, though its effectiveness reduces over time.
Side-effects of the Jynneos vaccine could include redness, pain or swelling at the injection site, muscle pain, headache, fatigue and nausea.
Who can get a monkeypox infection?
While “many of the cases are occurring within networks of gay, bisexual, trans people, and men who have sex with men,” San Francisco Department of Public Health spokesperson Noel Sanchez stated, anyone can become infected with the monkeypox virus.
“SFDPH takes monkeypox seriously,” Sanchez stated. “While most cases resolve on their own without pills or treatment, monkeypox can be serious. We are trying to contain outbreaks and reduce transmission to avoid the virus spreading to more people and potentially becoming endemic. To that end, we are doing education and outreach to communities most at risk; tracking monkeypox cases; distributing and administering vaccines as a preventative measure to people at high risk because of an exposure; and supporting testing and clinical guidance to providers, among other efforts.”
Sanchez advises people to:
- cover exposed skin in crowds
- avoid sharing begging and clothing
- talk with close physical and sexual contacts about health, rashes and shores
- be aware of symptoms