SAN JOSE, Calif. - The U.S. Dept. of Public Health declared a public health emergency Thursday in response to the monkeypox outbreak. About 6,600 Americans have been infected so far and the Bay Area is one of the hardest hit regions.
Santa Clara County just received over 2100 vaccine doses for Monkey Pox. But health officials say that’s still not enough, and they hope the national emergency declaration will help.
"We have 65 cases that we know of, that have been reported to us. And in the Bay Area, of course, there are hundreds at this point," said Dr. George Han, Santa Clara County Deputy Health Officer.
After being criticized for a slow response, the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency Thursday, freeing up money and other resources to help stop the spread of monkeypox. Santa Clara County recently received 2,154 vaccine doses, but health officials say they need more.
"As much vaccine as we can get, to the population who is at highest risk right now, the better because that will help slow down and hopefully stop the current outbreak from spreading even further," Dr. Han said.
Last week, Santa Clara County's public health dept. announced that Latino men who have sex with men were at higher risk for contracting monkeypox. Advocates in the LGBTQ+ community say they're concerned about people being stigmatized if they get sick.
"The big difference is, this is a virus, and it’s not necessarily sexually transmitted. Anyone can get it, and we do have the vaccine right now. So why people are panicking, I do not understand," said Gabrielle Antolovich, Board President for the Billy DeFrank LGBTQ+ Community Center.
LGBTQ Nation also reported that lab techs at two of the biggest commercial labs in the U.S., Labcorp and Quest Diagnostics, have been refusing to perform standard testing on suspected monkeypox patients. Antolovich says she doesn't want to see a repeat of the stigma people faced during the AIDS crisis.
"I wish people would calm down, and just work at getting the vaccine out, getting the word out about where you can get the vaccine," Antolovich said.
Santa Clara County administers the monkeypox vaccine by appointment at the Fairgrounds. For more information, contact Santa Clara County’s Public Health Dept.