SAN DIEGO — More monkeypox vaccines are needed in San Diego, county health officials say.
The county said it has so far received 2,200 doses of the vaccine and will have administered all of them by Friday afternoon.
“There’s no argument that the amount of vaccine that we received from the state is enough. But that said, I also want to point out that the monkeypox supply crunch is not the state’s fault. The reality is that nationwide, there just isn’t enough. It’s going to be a while before that changes,” Dr. Cameron Kaiser, San Diego County’s deputy public health officer said, speaking from Thursday’s vaccination clinic.
They are prioritizing those most at-risk of the virus to receive the vaccine first.
The county, in partnership with the San Diego LGBT Community Center, administered 400 doses by appointment Thursday and will administer 400 Friday. The location of the clinic is not disclosed until those in need make an appointment. A future vaccine clinic has not yet been scheduled.
There are more than 4,600 cases of monkeypox in the U.S. The state of California has the second-highest rate of monkeypox cases in the nation with 799, following behind New York with 1,228. Los Angeles has the most cases in the state with more than 200 and San Diego has 20 cases of the virus, including probable cases.
“Usually people pick it up through exposure to somebody else who has it,” Kaiser said. “Skin-to-skin contact is the most common, but occasionally can also be from clothing or bedding or other infected objects.”
The county is prioritizing men who have sex with men and transgender people with multiple sexual partners, in an effort to target those at the highest risk, officials say. The vast majority of infections in the U.S. and Europe thus far have occurred in people who fall into those groups, as the Associated Press reports.
Public health officials say they are trying to balance data-driven policy with the need to combat discrimination and stigma.
“We want to make sure that we’re not stigmatizing any population. We also want them to be appropriately vigilant,” Kaiser said. “We have to call it where we see it, and the population is disproportionately impacted.”
Rebekah Hook-Heds, the chief public affairs and civic engagement officer with the San Diego LGBT Community Center shared the following statement with FOX 5:
“Over the 50 years that The San Diego LGBT Community Center has been in service to our community; we have responded to a number of public health crises from HIV/AIDS to the many COVID variants. Given this, when we first started to hear about hMPXV, we understood immediately that we had to work in partnership with other community-based LGBTQ+ and sexual health organizations, 211, and with the San Diego Department of Health and Human Services (SD HHS) to coordinate a response.”
“Drawing from resources from the CDC, CDH and SD HHS, we have created a resource page on our website, pushed out vaccine and other FAQ information through our weekly enews and social media channels. Our Welcome Desk has fielded hundreds of calls helping connect our community to vaccine access through 2-1-1 and answer their other questions.”
Hook-Held said they are working to ensure this virus does not stigmatize those impacted.
“Stigma is one of the most serious roadblocks to educating communities about their health as well as to connecting people with the healthcare they need. We have to balance providing factual, science-backed information with language that does not place individuals at greater risk because we have created an obstacle for them to reach out and get vaccinated,” Hook-Held said.
“What this means is that we make suggestions around options for people such as avoiding direct contact with, for instance, infectious rashes. And, we avoid singling out particular demographics as the lonely ones at risk because we know that this not only adds to existing stigma but also leads other communities to ignore the issues until it reaches them. We are in a global health crisis with hMPXV and while the cases are relatively low here in San Diego, to do all we can to contain the spread, we must remain vigilant in our response.”
Another vaccination event has not yet been announced. Kaiser said as soon as more vaccines arrive in San Diego, they will be administered.
Kaiser said there is an experimental treatment for monkeypox that has so far shown positive results in lessening the severity of the symptoms caused by monkeypox.