Update: San Francisco declares public health emergency over monkey pox

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SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco officials announced Thursday that they are declaring a monkey pox public health emergency that will take effect Aug. 1.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed tweeted about the statement Thursday afternoon, saying it would allow the city to “mobilize resources to prevent the spread of the virus” and accelerate emergency response from the health department.

The mayor’s tweet included a link to a Medium.com blog post with additional details about what the emergency statement would mean for the health department’s response to monkeypox. The blog post also noted that San Francisco would not “implement behavioral restrictions or other measures” as was done in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, state senator Scott Wiener called on San Francisco and California to declare a state of emergency over the spread of monkeypox.

While more monkeypox vaccines will come to the Bay Area from the federal government’s allocation, the amount will still not be enough to meet demand in the region.

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Nearly 800,000 doses of the monkeypox vaccine will soon be available for distribution, U.S. health regulators said Wednesday.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT MONKEYPOX: California Department of Public Health | SF Ministry of Health | Santa Clara County Department of Health

The announcement came amid mounting criticism that authorities have been too slow in deploying the vaccine, potentially missing the window to contain a soon-to-be entrenched infectious disease.

Nearly two weeks ago, the Food and Drug Administration said it had completed necessary inspections at Bavarian Nordic’s facility in Denmark, where the company fills vials of the vaccine. The FDA said on Twitter on Wednesday that the certification had been completed. The doses are already in the US “so they will be ready for distribution once manufacturing changes are approved,” the agency said.

The US has already sent more than 310,000 doses of the Jynneos dual vaccine to state and local health departments.

The federal government is sending more than 4,200 doses of the vaccine to San Francisco, though it’s unclear when those shots will arrive. The amount is slightly more than the number of vaccines received by San Francisco last week.

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Officials said the amount falls far short of the 35,000 dose request issued recently by the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

“Without sufficient vaccine supply, we would struggle to fulfill our basic duty to keep our communities safe,” the agency said in a statement.

KPIX 5 spoke Thursday with Frank Strona, the director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health about the city’s response to monkey pox.

When asked about the department’s allocation strategy, Strona said, “Fortunately, for each of our allocations that we’ve been given, we’ve been able to turn them around considerably quickly and get them out. So out of about 7,800 doses we’ve been given , we’ve been able to put just under 6,800 of those doses into people’s arms.”

Strona said that when the next expected batch of vaccines is received, the city plans to do the same: roll out the doses as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Strona also said those people who are unable to get the monkeypox vaccine should do as much as possible to reduce their risk of exposure.

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“I think it’s really important for people to understand that this is a dance. It’s really about self-assessment where you’re putting yourself at risk. If you find yourself having symptoms, see your doctor. That’s the most important thing to do.” stop the spread. Anytime you have an ulcer or rash, you could potentially expose it to someone else, so keep that in mind,” Strona said.

All over the Bay Area, people are dealing with the shortage of vaccines, and many are waiting in long lines to get the monkeypox shot.

On Wednesday, there were rows for blocks in Berkeley, with a number of people being turned away. Santa Clara County also held a monkeypox vaccination clinic on Wednesday, but again officials said they didn’t have enough doses to accommodate everyone who wanted the shot.

With the high concentration of confirmed cases in San Francisco and California, the rush to get treatment is on.

“We’ll be getting just over 700 doses. We don’t know exactly when those will arrive right now,” said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County health director, told reporters on Wednesday.

Cody said the years of the COVID pandemic have prepared health teams for the monkey pox response.

“A little silver liner in difficult times, we have a lot of experience with COVID and our teams are ready to do what they do best,” she said.

County health officials also announced they have opened a clinic at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds Expo Hall for monkeypox vaccination efforts, with 380 appointments already booked for Wednesday and Thursday.

The California Department of Public Health has set up a web page listing the distribution of monkeypox vaccine doses that the state has received to date.