SAN FRANCISCO - As monkeypox cases continue to rise, San Francisco's Department of Public Health has noticed rates increasing at an alarming rate among the city's Latino population. The health department is working with community groups to warn Latinos and help them protect themselves.
The city is closely monitoring the spread of monkeypox. According to the latest data, from Friday, there are 197 confirmed cases. That data also shows a disturbing trend, that although Latino's make up just 15% of San Francisco's population, 30% of the city's monkeypox cases are among Latinos.
"We're building out efforts on our previous successes learned from diseases like COVID, and other STDs like syphilis, HIV," said Oscar Macias from San Francisco's Department of Public Health.
Latinos said they're worried that just as with COVID, monkeypox will have an outsized impact on their community.
"I'm from Venezuela and I was born and raised there," said Edimar Duque. "But, I moved to the United States seven years ago and yes, I have noticed that when diseases and things hit us, it's always us that take the hardest hit."
The Department of Public Health said with a limited supply of the vaccine, it is working with community groups on outreach and helping to get Latinos vaccinated.
"We know that health disparities, social disparities, economic disparities hit our communities first," said Ivan Corado-Vega with the Latino Task Force. "Here we are again with monkeypox emerging in our community."
The Latino Task Force started during the pandemic as the Latino population faced a disproportionate impact from COVID. The group said it's using outreach programs, like food distribution to inform the community.
"Our community kind of relies on us every Thursday to get tested and or vaccinated," said Shalom Bandi from the Latino Task Force. "We're hoping to be the same hub for them every Thursday with monkeypox vaccine and we try to be a discreet and low barrier."
The department of public health has set aside 30% of the vaccine for the communities most impacted, and they are relying on the community groups to help organize the distribution of those doses.
Meanwhile, the daily monkeypox vaccine clinic at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital will be closed on Tuesday due to a lack of the vaccine. According to the city, the federal government has not said when an allotment of vaccines will arrive. The city says they have requested 35,000 doses, but have only received 7,800.
State Sen. Scott Wiener, who has been a vocal critic of the slow government response to the outbreak, said on Twitter, "This is beyond unsustainable. It can't go on this way."
On Monday, the health department said they gave out approximately 550 doses of the Jynneos vaccine at the hospital clinic. The vaccine requires two doses to be considered fully vaccinated. Last week, city health officials said they would defer the second dose until supply increases.