Santa Clara Co. expands monkeypox vaccine eligibility, leans on local LGBTQ+ groups to share info

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Wednesday, July 20, 2022
Santa Clara Co. expands monkeypox vaccine eligibility
Santa Clara County expands its eligibility requirements for monkeypox vaccine recipients and partners up with LGBTQ+ nonprofits to spread the word.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The Santa Clara County Public Health Department has received more than 1,600 doses of the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine to date, with a majority arriving on Tuesday. Officials also announced that the department would be expanding vaccine eligibility.

"Supply is still very tight in comparison to the need that we have, but it's improving," SCCPHD Deputy Health Officer Dr. George Han told ABC7 News.

The improvement came on Tuesday in the form of an added 886 doses of the vaccine.

Han said that under the department's previous "invitation only" distribution model, around 60 people have already received it.

"Now with this new effort this week, we're hoping to get a lot more vaccines for people who may not have come into contact with someone they knew had monkeypox," Han said.

VIDEO: Hundreds line up as Zuckerberg SF General clinic reopens for monkeypox vaccine drop-ins

A monkeypox vaccine clinic reopened on Wednesday at Zuckerberg SF General Hospital and very quickly after opening, people were getting turned away.

"Almost anyone in the LGBTQ+ community can get one and that's awesome," Jordan Houseworth with Project MORE said.

Pointing to the county's updated eligibility criteria, he explained his confidence in establishing a much-needed layer of protection for more of the population.

In a release, SCCPHD detailed:

People in Santa Clara County are now eligible for the monkeypox vaccine if they:

  • Had direct physical contact with someone confirmed to have monkeypox
  • Attended an event or venue where a person contagious with monkeypox was at the event or venue and had direct physical contact with other people there
  • Identify as a gay, bisexual, or other cisgender man who has sex with men (MSM), or as a transgender man or woman, who meets at least one of the following risk criteria:
  • Have recent history of multiple or anonymous sex partners
  • Participate in group sex
  • Attend sex-on-premises venues (for example, bathhouse) or events
  • Work or volunteer at a bathhouse or sex club
  • Have had a bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI), such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis, in the prior 1 year
  • Perform sex work

RELATED: Everything you need to know about origin, infection, vaccines, and treatment of monkeypox

"We definitely want to make sure that the community stays safe, stays informed, and knows the proper information. And gets it in a quick and timely manner," Houseworth told ABC7 News. "That way, we can prevent future outbreaks."

These are reasons why SCCPHD is teaming up with local LGBTQ+ organizations.

"The faster you get the word out, the faster you can get the vaccine to people," Gabrielle Antolovich president of the Billy DeFrank LGBTQ Community Center in San Jose said.

Antolovich is gearing up for a Thursday evening Q and A at 6 p.m. with county public health officials to discuss the county's monkeypox rollout. Antolovich said the center has hosted similar community forums for COVID-19 throughout the pandemic.

RELATED: Bay Area activists protest slow federal response to monkeypox as cases increase

"It's a big deal," Antolovich said. "Because when I said, 'Yes, we can have a community forum, but I can tell you right now, the first question will be: Where can we get the vaccine?"

Han said the county is working to get vaccine clinics online this week, with appointments required.

Depending on supply and logistics, Han said SCCPHD is looking to vaccinate between 100 and 200 people at each site.

"We've already given out some doses to a major health system so that they can begin to vaccinate their patients," he added.

See more information on SCCPHD's expanded vaccine eligibility here.

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