Anxiety over monkeypox outbreak prompts long lines in San Francisco for vaccines

San Francisco General Hospital and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation are holding an online town hall on monkeypox  on Tuesday evening, partnering with a long list of community groups and leaders to help educate the public about the monkeypox outbreak, as concern increases with the growing number of cases.

On Monday, the line to get monkeypox vaccines stretched down the block outside Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. 

SF General staff say all week they are offering a walk-in clinic for people who have been exposed to monkeypox to get the vaccine.

"I had a bit of an inkling that it was going to be crowded, but you got to do what you got to do," said Hector, a San Francisco man who was waiting in the line.

"I thought there would be a long line. I honestly thought I wouldn't get one today, but I'd try anyway," said Keith Hall, who also was waiting for vaccine.

Some people said they waited as long as two hours just to get the vaccine.

California has the second-highest number of confirmed monkeypox cases in the nation, according to data published Monday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

A CDC map shows California with 148 cases compared to New York which had 156 cases.

Concern about the outbreak of the monkeyvirus, which is normally not seen outside of Africa, has prompted calls for more action to increase vaccine supplies and distribution.

The monkeypox virus causes a characteristic rash, and it can be transmitted through close contact or bedding.

"It looked terrible. It's like they were covered in red spots and blisters, so I definitely don't want that," said Franz, a San Francisco resident who said he saw photos on social media of the monkeypox rash.

Some people waiting in line say they are worried because they'd been in proximity with people who had confirmed monkeypox cases.

"I have been to an event where I was notified after the fact that there were reported cases, so I'm kind of anxious about that," said Keith Hall who was waiting in the line.

On Monday, the CDC posted a map showing 39 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico with reported monkeypox cases. 

SF General says it received 2,308 monkeypox vaccine doses last week.

Still, many people say that is not enough...

"It's been really hard to call into Kaiser, or Strut or other social services that provide vaccinations. I think there's definitely a shortage in the city and with the fast spread I really think we need a lot more doses in San Francisco," said Franz.

"We need to get ahead of this as soon as possible," said Honey Mahogany, a co-sponsor of the town hall on monkeypox.

Mahogany says Tuesday's town hall meeting at 6 p.m. is important to get accurate information to the public. She says also, there should be more community meetings and efforts to secure more vaccine doses before the virus spreads.

You need to get the feedback of where are the holes in the chain of information? Who is not being served? How do we get better at providing service, there needs to be some sort of feedback loop and a community meeting is a great way to do that," said Mahogany.

The CDC is expecting an increase in monkeypox vaccine supplies in the coming weeks and months.

For information from the CDC, click on this link.