Aug 1, 2022 - News

San Francisco hopes emergency declaration will bring more vaccines

Monkeypox signs in San Francisco
Rallygoers in San Francisco demand fast federal response to the monkeypox outbreak. Photo: The Washington Post/Getty Images

With one of the highest infection rates in the country, the city of San Francisco declared a state of emergency last week in response to its monkeypox outbreak.

Why it matters: One of the declaration's main objectives is to "send a signal" to the federal government that the city needs urgent help — namely, more vaccines, District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman said in an interview with Axios.

  • The city initially requested 35,000 vaccines, but so far has received around 12,000. Mandelman said the city needs closer to 70,000 to reach those who are at-risk.
  • While most cases in the city have been among men and trans people who have sex with men, the disease can be spread non-sexually and anyone can contract it.

Details: City officials say they want the emergency declaration to communicate the seriousness of the disease to residents.

  • While most cases in the city have been among men and trans people who have sex with men, the disease can be spread non-sexually and anyone can contract it. He added the health order lets people know "this is actually something to be worried about."
  • It allows the city to set up vaccination sites faster, as well.

By the numbers: San Francisco's 305 monkeypox cases as of Friday, account for nearly 40% of all confirmed cases in California.

  • Over 97% of those who have tested positive in the city identified as male, and over 85% identified as gay or bisexual. Of those who tested positive, 12% declined to provide sexual orientation information.
  • Nearly 27% identified as Latino — almost double the percentage of the city's overall Latino population. Public health officials said they are working with Latino community groups to disseminate information on resources.

What they're saying: "For many of us in the gay community, the response has felt chaotic, confusing, and to be blunt, homophobic," resident Mike Marcus told Axios. "It's hard not to wonder what the response would be if this were happening in a majority community."

  • Marcus said San Francisco General Hospital had run out of vaccine doses when he went to get one. Instead, he got his shot after taking the day off work, driving to Berkeley, and waiting for five hours in line.

What's next: Health officials are now distributing the 4,220 doses it received late last week to vaccine sites across the city.

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