‘Public Health Failure’ – Government Response to Monkeypox Upsets SF Lawmakers and LGBTQ Community

SAN FRANCISCO — As the monkeypox outbreak grows, two San Francisco lawmakers as well as the LGBTQ community have grown frustrated with the federal government’s response and the lack of available vaccines.

“Monkey pox is a growing public health concern in our community. While the virus can infect anyone, it particularly affects gay and bisexual men,” said a joint statement from State Senator Scott Wiener and of Assemblyman Matt Haney.

“The good news is that we have an effective vaccine that prevents monkeypox. The bad news is that the federal government has once again failed in public health, this time by not ordering enough doses of vaccine to prepare for this foreseeable outbreak,” Wiener said. and Haney said. “It is completely unacceptable that the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and other community clinics are receiving so few doses.”

Lawmakers went on to say there was little time left to prevent the outbreak from spiraling out of control.

In an interview with KPIX 5 on Friday, Wiener said, “If we don’t get ahead of this virus and contain it, it won’t just affect gay and bisexual men. It will spread through the general population.”

Dr. Tyler TerMeer, CEO of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation Clinic, says KPIX 5 on Thursday that they urgently need doses, as cases in California have doubled in the past week.

“We need something like 6,000 doses just to vaccinate our patient population that we see,” TerMeer said.

Wiener said more vaccines have been ordered by the federal government, but it’s not fast enough.

At Castro in San Francisco on Friday, there was a growing sense of frustration over the lack of consistent information about where to get the monkeypox vaccine and how to protect yourself against the virus.

Castro resident Christopher Vasquez received the first two-dose monkeypox vaccine on Thursday and said his phone was constantly filled with text messages from people who didn’t know where to get the shot.

“How do you find where to go? Because nobody knows what’s going on, or the information isn’t easily found,” Vasquez told KPIX 5.

Where he lives, Vasquez meets friends on the street who opt for a shoulder-to-shoulder greeting instead of handshakes. A man told Vasquez, “I don’t want to get monkeypox.”

KPIX 5’s appeals to county leaders regarding vaccine supplies went unanswered when this story aired on Friday. So, in the absence of information, Vasquez said cellphone texting and social media monitoring are how he and others learn how and where to get vaccinated.

“We shouldn’t have to do this on our own. And I think that’s where a lot of the frustration lies. We’re being let down again by our federal, state and local health authorities,” Vasquez said. .

According to the San Francisco Department of Public Health, there were 40 cases of monkeypox among city residents on Wednesday, up 24 from the previous week.

Reed Cowan contributed to this report.

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