SAN FRANCISCO - Hundreds lined up in the early morning hours in San Francisco waiting hours for the limited doses of monkeypox vaccine. The first patients looking for monkeypox vaccine began lining up before dawn on Monday, hoping for one of the limited doses. By early evening, California's Governor Gavin Newsom declared the disease a state of emergency in response to the outbreak.
"The proclamation supports the work underway by the California Department of Public Health and others in the administration to coordinate a whole-of-government response to monkeypox, seek additional vaccines and lead outreach and education efforts on accessing vaccines and treatment," a statement from the governor read. In addition, the declaration will assist with rapidly opening vaccination and testing facilities.
San Francisco declared a public health emergency over monkeypox last week that went into effect Aug. 1. While state officials have sought to reassure the public that the risk of contracting monkeypox remains very low, efforts to procure more doses of the Jynneos vaccine for smallpox and monkeypox have hampered a swift effort to curb the outbreak.
"It will give me a lot of peace of mind, it will make me feel a lot better about going out and meeting people, hanging out with people, and not worrying about if I have a pimple or something worse," said Cameron Lucas about receiving the vaccine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.
The hospital is rationing its limited doses, prioritizing those currently in the highest risks groups. "This epidemic is mostly among men who have sex with other men, so we're really trying to get the vaccine out to men who have had multiple sex partners in the last few days," said CEO of Zuckerberg-SF General Hospital, Susan Elrich.
But, for those who arrived too late, they were out of luck. J.J. Is one of those who missed out on a dose. He said it feels like there is a lack of urgency to protect the LGBTQ community. "I was like, fine, I'll just wait in line and the direct person in front of me in line was the cutoff point. So, it is frustrating at this point," said J.J. "At this point it's par for the course, I know we get the short end of the stick all the time."
The department of public health shares that frustration, saying medical staff administered 950 doses at Monday's clinic, after having received 4,200 doses Friday. The department said it receives its vaccine allocation from the federal government via the California Department of Public Health. Part of the frustration for public health leaders is they do not know when they will receive an allotment or how much, making difficult to plan.
The state had received just over 37,000 doses of the two-dose vaccine as of Friday, with the expectation of receiving another 72,000 doses as soon as this week.
At an event honoring Transgender History Month, Mayor London Breed said San Francisco is working hard to get 70,000 doses of vaccine to try to slow the progress of monkeypox. "By sounding the alarm and declaring an emergency, that our federal government will do something a lot different than they did before, because from my perspective, this is completely controllable," said Mayor Breed. "But, we're not responding as quickly as we should."
The mayor said she will be on the phone with federal agencies again this week, making her case for more doses to be sent here.
The hospital's vaccine clinic at is set to reopen Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. Staff are advising those who want the shot to arrive early.
Bay City News contributed to this report.