SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – A shortage of monkeypox vaccines has forced San Francisco General to cancel its upcoming clinics.
Bay Area public health agencies said Monday they were still unsure the supply of the monkeypox vaccine they would receive this week from the federal government forcing the closure.
“Just to be clear, we’re in a bad spot, I don’t want to sugar coat it,” said Sen. Scott Wiener on Monday. “If we can have adequate supply in two or three months instead of six to nine months, that’s a big benefit.”
The California lawmaker hopes to see the license to manufacture the vaccine shared with more companies so production increases and shortens the delay to bring more supply to the Bay Area. Wiener also said emergency funding should be approved by the legislature next month to improve testing and education around monkeypox. He worries that public awareness is still low outside of the LGBTQ community.
“This is not a gay disease. In Africa, everyone was impacted by monkeypox,” he said.
SFDPH said in a statement it does not know when or if it a new allotment of the vaccine will arrive this week. While the agency asked for 35,000 doses earlier this month, it says to date it has given at total of 7,814 including a donated supply from San Mateo County.
Santa Clara County also reported on Monday no additional vaccine supply delivery dates had been confirmed as of Monday.
The San Francisco AIDS Foundation did announce another 200 doses would be used at a new vaccine clinic this weekend, barely helping to address the waitlist for the vaccine at its clinic now at 6,500 people.
The AIDS Project of the East Bay will start having its own clinics this week after receiving a small supply from its partners. It will target the communities most in need, including the homeless and sex workers.
“Folks who essentially by nature have to encounter anonymous people and do these sort of things to survive so those are going to be the populations we prioritize,” said George Mizrahi Jackson, the executive director of APEB. “If you’re doing sex work, it’s nine times out of 10 for survival, and so people are doing this because this their means of feeding themselves or finding shelter.”
While the priority remains certain groups where the disease was first found in the United States, including men who have sex with men, local leaders and health advocates agree that enough vaccine for those communities is needed now to prevent a larger public health crisis where other demographics will also become infected with monkeypox.
“That could happen here, if we don’t control this, it will spread to the general community and it will be an issue for everyone,” Wiener said.
To learn more about AIDS Project of the East Bay vaccine clinics, visit https://www.apeb.org/.