How SF's responding to influx in monkeypox cases as demand increases for vaccines

KGO logo
Saturday, July 9, 2022
How delays in monkeypox vaccines could hurt SF
Despite the White House's announcement on monkeypox vaccine distribution frustration is growing in San Francisco over the government's response.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The White House is responding to a call for more vaccines against monkeypox after cities like San Francisco continue to sound the alarm.

Right now it is hitting gay and bisexual men disproportionately and there is concern that not enough of the "right" information is getting out to the public.

The government says 144,000 doses will be shipped nationwide on July 11. The San Francisco Health Department reports that as of July 1 San Francisco had received 580 doses and 2,300 additional ones this week.

The first cases of monkeypox in the U.S. were confirmed in May.

Critics now say the federal distribution should have arrived in mid-June before the San Francisco Pride celebrations.

In fact, San Francisco Aids Foundation didn't receive its first allotment of 60 doses of the vaccine until June 30 after the Pride weekend, revealed its executive director, Tyler TerMeer.

In the past week, the cases of monkeypox increased from 16 to 40, almost as many as Los Angeles.

The health department says 600 people in San Francisco have already been vaccinated.

But State Senator Scott Wiener Friday bashed the federal government for now playing catch-up.

"We need the federal government to move much faster and more aggressively to get more vaccine doses," warned Wiener.

In the meantime, keeping it from spreading is what the health department and organizations like the AIDS Foundation are struggling with.

Right now only a person who has been in close contact with someone with monkeypox is eligible for the vaccine. There are currently more people exposed than anticipated.

"I do know that if you were to call anyone of the clinics right now, you're either going to get a voice mail saying that they have a very limited supply and to continue to call back," added TerMeer.

The AIDS Foundation told us they have a waiting list of more than 500 people who are eligible because they have been exposed.

Vaccines will be given out at 10 community and health care sites throughout San Francisco.

On Friday, a new access point opened at San Francisco General Hospital's monkeypox clinic on the second floor. They're open from Monday to Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. while supplies last.

On a positive note, researchers know a lot about this virus.

"We have vaccines, we have drugs so it's nothing like the position we were in with COVID," explained Dr. Stanley Deresinski, an Infectious Disease physician with Stanford Health Care.

The medical profession wants everyone to know that testing is not available to just anyone. You have to have an active rash or lesion in order to get tested.