Monkeypox transmission, vaccination discussed at West Hollywood town hall meeting

Thursday, July 28, 2022
Monkeypox transmission, vaccine discussed at West Hollywood town hall
The city of West Hollywood held a town hall meeting to discuss Monkeypox transmission and vaccination.

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (KABC) -- The city of West Hollywood, which has the highest rate of monkeypox cases in Los Angeles County, held a town hall meeting on Wednesday night to discuss transmission and vaccination.

"This is very real for our community," Erick Matos told ABC7. "I have friends in other communities that have not even heard of monkeypox."

The virus spreads from prolonged skin-to-skin contact, and manifests with flu-like symptoms and lesions.

Matt Ford was contracted monkeypox in June. He said he counted about 25 lesions and it took approximately three weeks for him to recover.

"At worst, these were excruciatingly painful -- constantly, to the point that I was unable to sleep at night," he said, speaking at the town hall. "I had to go back to my doctor and be prescribed narcotic painkillers."

As cases rise in Long Beach, health officials say monkeypox is 'not a gay disease'

The U.S. is now leading the world in confirmed monkeypox cases - more than 4,600 - and the city of Long Beach is ramping up efforts to make monkeypox vaccines readily available.

But the pain is not just from the virus itself.

"It's OK to admit that this virus disproportionately impacts the LGBTQ community," Matos said. "But it is not OK to stigmatize this virus as something that is as a result of being gay."

Part of the town hall was to create a space to talk and ask questions.

Matos said he left the meeting "with a little bit of hope, for sure. There's definitely been a state interest here at this event that shows that our community and our county is committed to addressing this issue."

Monkeypox vaccines have been slow to distribute but they are available to those who qualify.

Vaccination site information is available from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. The Encino site is the closest one to West Hollywood, for now. But that is soon expected to change.

Speaking at the town hall, Dr. Leo Moore, the county's medical director of clinical services, thanked the city "for working closely with us on a mobile vaccination site that we plan to launch here as soon as we have additional doses."