The San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) will be prioritizing first-doses of the monkeypox vaccine for at-risk people and will defer second dose appointments until an adequate supply of the vaccine is received, a spokesperson for the department said on Friday.
This week, SF received only 4,164 doses of the vaccine from the federal stockpile, the health department said. To date, only 7,700 doses have been allotted to SF; SFDPH has requested 35,000 doses to begin to meet the need.
San Francisco Supervisors blasted the public health response to the ongoing global monkeypox outbreak on Thursday, calling for improved communication with at-risk groups and calling for an influx of vaccine doses.
The SFDPH admits that there has been a "rapid" increase in cases of monkeypox in San Francisco and will prioritize first doses of the Jynneos vaccine to as many at-risk people as possible. The health department said that this is based on available scientific evidence surrounding the accelerated outbreak, the high number of eligible people and the extreme shortage of the vaccine nationally.
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SF has identified 141 cases of monkeypox to date but the health department anticipates more cases will occur. The vast majority of the city's cases have been confirmed in gay or bisexual men between the ages of 25 and 54, the health department said, and some 42 percent of those cases have been in Asian, Black or Hispanic residents.
San Francisco expanded its eligibility for the vaccine to all men who have sex with men who have had multiple sexual partners within the past 14 days as well as sex workers of any orientation or gender.
Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, one of two LGBTQ members of the board and the supervisor who called for a hearing on monkeypox, compared the city's response to the outbreak to the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and '90s, calling it "eerily familiar" for those who remember the epidemic's early days.
Mandelman also unfavorably compared the government's response to monkeypox with that of COVID-19, which he said was addressed rapidly and successfully after vaccines became available and 40 million people were vaccinated. He called the current response to monkeypox "totally inadequate" for the scope of the current outbreak.
The federal government has stated that it plans to vaccinate some 3.5 million people against monkeypox by mid-2023, which Mandelman called "abysmal."
To reduce-- but not eliminate-- the chance of transmission of monkeypox, health experts advise avoiding close physical contact with anyone who is sick, especially if they are exhibiting a new or unexpected rash or sore. For those who choose to have sex while sick, avoid kissing and other face-to-face contact.
If sores are present, they should be covered with clothing or sealed bandages. Hands, sex toys and bedding should be cleaned before and after sexual or other intimate activities. Having sex or other intimate contact with multiple or anonymous people can increase the risk of exposure.