SF monkeypox cases up to 141, vaccine waits reportedly hit 9 hours

A monkeypox vaccine clinic at San Francisco General Hospital opened to long lines Wednesday morning and turned away many people, ABC7 reported.

The San Francisco Department of Public Health has requested 35,000 vaccines but only received 3,580 in an initial shipment and another 4,163 this week — “which will be used within days,” Mayor London Breed said in a letter she wrote to federal health officials and posted on Twitter on Wednesday morning.

Monkeypox cases are climbing in San Francisco, prompting state and local leaders to ask federal health officials for more vaccines to meet the growing demand from residents who want shots but are being turned away at clinics. 

The number of monkeypox cases in the city has risen to 141, up from 86 cases just a few days ago. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 2,322 cases of the painful, but rarely fatal, viral disease, which most notably causes a rash. California has reported 356 cases since July 19, more than a third in San Francisco. In total, California has the second highest number of known cases in any state, after New York, the CDC said.

Breed wrote in her letter that this “is a critical point in the spread of this virus, and we need to take more urgent action.”

San Francisco now has 141 diagnosed monkeypox cases, more than most states. We need more vaccines to protect our LGBTQ community which is at higher risk, and to slow the spread. pic.twitter.com/i3GeSHXxa6

— London Breed (@LondonBreed) July 20, 2022

The public health department is allocating doses of Jynneos, the only vaccine specifically approved to prevent monkeypox, at clinics throughout the city, including at Kaiser Permanente (to find a complete list of locations and make an appointment in San Francisco, visit the department website). The department is reserving the vaccine for gay and bisexual men, as well as sex workers and people with known exposures to monkeypox.

Anyone can get monkeypox through close physical contact with an infected person, but the current outbreak in North America and Europe is disproportionately impacting men who have sex with other men. While public health officials and doctors are eager to avoid stigmatizing the virus, there is some concern among experts that avoiding the subject may prevent valuable information from reaching the people most likely to be affected. Science reporter Benjamin Ryan, for instance, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed on July 18 that public health officials are doing a disservice by not conveying “the seriousness of this burgeoning crisis to gay and bisexual men.” 

State Sen. Scott Wiener, along with 10 other lawmakers, advocated for the gay community in a letter on Wednesday addressed to Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“Gay and bisexual men, transgender people and others at risk desperately want the vaccine in order to protect themselves and those around them,” Wiener wrote. “Yet instead of quickly mobilizing into a mass vaccination campaign with this existing safe and effective vaccine, many of our counties lack the supply to vaccinate everyone seeking the vaccine. In San Francisco, for example, people have been waiting in lines for as long as 9 hours in the hope of getting a scarce vaccine.”

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