Vaccine clinics open through weekend as LA County expands services to slow spread of monkeypox

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Saturday, August 6, 2022
LA County expands clinical services to slow spread of monkeypox
Los Angeles County is expanding contact tracing, 211 call center hours, community outreach as part of an effort to slow the spread of monkeypox.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates nationwide about 1.7 million people are eligible for the monkeypox vaccine.

In West Hollywood, a new pop-up clinic hopes to have enough supply to last until the end of August.

"We opened our own vaccination sites because we can do that very quickly to reach a lot of people once we received some vaccine doses," said Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer

Among the more than 7,100 monkeypox cases reported in the U.S., more than 1300 are in California with more than 430 in L.A. County.

Ferrer said her department is expanding contact tracing, 211 call center hours and community outreach. Weekly COVID-19 briefings will now include monkeypox updates.

"Right now, it's an emergency. And during an emergency we have some flexibility, we can move our resources around and our money around. That's exactly what we are doing," she said.

The Food and Drug Administration is looking into whether it can stretch the vaccine supply by pulling five doses out of a single vaccine vial without sacrificing safety or efficacy.

7 ways to reduce your risk of monkeypox

The Biden administration declared the current monkeypox outbreak to be a public health emergency in the U.S. on Thursday afternoon.

"This is pretty common in medicine. We learn new things about vaccines, about treatments and about dosing. That's what the FDA is looking at right now," said Dr. Ashish Jha, White House COVID-19 response coordinator

The CDC published a breakdown of the demographics of people who have tested positive for monkeypox

According to the data available so far, 99% of cases have been in men both cisgender and transgender. Among a smaller subset of cases that reported recent sexual behavior, 94% had recently reported recent sexual contact with another man.

Health officials say there are more than a million vaccine doses going out to states, but that's not enough to cover everyone who is eligible. Critics say the white house response has been disappointing so far.

"Asking the Department of Public Health, asking my primary care provider how do I prevent more lesions and I was told nothing. I just don't think they were prepared," said Brian McKenna, a monkeypox patient.

Nearly all the cases have been among men who have sex with men which includes people who identify as gay, bisexual, transgender and nonbinary.

But monkeypox is not a sexually-transmitted disease and anyone can get the virus.

Five children in the U.S. have been infected.

"I have not seen any cases through playgrounds or public transportation. It's really prolonged skin-to-skin contact," said Jha.

Four vaccination pods at the Balboa Sports Complex, Market Street Center, Ted Watkins Memorial Park and Obregon park will be open throughout the weekend.