Long lines stretch around block in San Francisco for coveted monkeypox vaccine

People eligible for the monkeypox vaccine showed up in droves to a walk-in clinic to get a shot on Wednesday at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. 

Even before the 8 a.m. entry, a couple hundred people were in a line that stretched outside the hospital grounds and onto the sidewalk next to it to get inoculated. 

The clinic was open until noon. But by 9:41 a.m., the San Francisco Department of Public Health said no more walk-in vaccines were available, but if you had an appointment you would receive a vaccine. 

There were comments on social media about confusion as to how to obtain an appointment. 

Some arrived as early as 3:30 a.m. to line up. 

"I know a couple of friends who've had it," said Chris Barton. "That definitely prompted me as well." 

He said a friend described it as "horrible." 

According to the latest numbers on Tuesday, there were 141 reported cases of monkeypox in San Francisco. That's up from 86 cases the day before. San Francisco Mayor London Breed said the city has more cases than most states have. 

Those eligible to get the vaccine at the clinic are: 

  • Gay/bisexual men
  • Sex workers of any sexual orientation
  • Anyone who’s had close contact with infected person
  • Someone who’s been notified by an event or organization, of a possible exposure to monkeypox at a recent public event.
  • Lab workers who handle monkeypox specimens.

California's public health leaders continue to ask for more doses of the vaccine. The state department of public health told the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that California estimates it needs 600,000 to 800,000 additional doses of the Jynneos vaccine.  

"Unlike the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when we did not have a vaccine to mitigate the spread, in the case of monkeypox we do have an approved vaccine that should be effective," said Dr. Mark Ghaly, California Health and Human Services Secretary. "It is critical for us to work together and across government – federal, state, and local – to mitigate the spread and protect those disproportionally impacted by the virus."

In an interview with KTVU Governor Gavin Newsom said he expects to have received 60,000 doses by next week. The state is also going directly to manufacturers, he said.

Earlier this week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined other state and local leaders calling on the federal government to send more monkeypox vaccine supply here to San Francisco. They said they need about 35,000 doses to meet demand.

San Francisco General got 4,000 doses in the last 24 hours. 

As of Tuesday, the state has received reports of 356 probable and confirmed cases of monkeypox. However, public health officials have said that the risk of the general public contracting the virus is currently very low.

Monkeypox is generally spread through skin-to-skin contact or bodily fluids via kissing, breathing at close range, sexual activity and sharing bedding or clothing. Health officials have stressed that the virus is not airborne like COVID-19 or the flu. 

Symptoms can include a rash or sores on the skin anywhere on a patient's body. Contraction of the virus often begins with flu-like symptoms as well.

The virus has been confirmed globally in many men who identify as gay or bisexual, but public health officials have stressed that the virus is not exclusive to men who are attracted to men, and anyone can contract monkeypox via close contact with an infected person.

Regardless, state and local health officials have partnered with LGBTQ community organizations to raise awareness of the virus and limit its spread.

SEE ALSO: Monkeypox vaccines available in limited supply for those eligible at SF General Hospital starting Wednesday

Monkeypox Vaccine Sites: 

Drop-in vaccines for San Francisco residents who meet vaccine eligibility requirements:
Zuckerberg SF General Learning Center (ZSFG clinic), 1001 Potrero Avenue, Building 30, 2nd Floor, San Francisco, Monday-Friday, 8am-noon.
The following locations have supplies of Jynneos vaccine by appointment only:

Bay City News contributed to this report.