Monkeypox vaccines are being distributed throughout California in response to high demand but supplies are limited, state and Berkeley officials confirmed.
In late June, Bay Area officials first alerted populations to monkeypox, a viral disease that results in flu-like symptoms and skin reactions. On Wednesday, NBC Bay Area documented a long line outside Steamworks Berkeley where the vaccines were being distributed. The Mercury News reported at least 100 monkeypox infections in the Bay Area, including 17 cases in Alameda County.
Berkeley Health Officer Lisa Hernandez said the vaccine is currently in limited supply. The state has recommended local jurisdictions make vaccination clinics available to high-risk groups first, as they did with the COVID-19 vaccine and other health responses. Hernandez did not say whether there have been any confirmed cases in Berkeley.
Hernandez said that the city received 270 doses of the vaccine, which have already run low. Statewide, 14,000 doses were expected by the end of this week, and another 9,000 doses are expected to ship by the end of July, according to the city.
Hernandez said the vaccinations are free, and there is no charge.
“We are working with the sites to improve clinic operations,” she said, responding to reports of long wait times and charges at Steamworks.
The Food and Drug Administration also said Friday that nearly a million doses will be arriving nationwide by the end of the month, according to the Washington Post.
Monkeypox can infect all populations and is primarily spread by close, physical contact, including sexual contact. It usually begins with skin symptoms like a rash. Cases can be serious, but most resolve on their own, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The San Francisco AIDS Foundation, which said cases have been reported among gay and bisexual men in Europe and the United States, published a Q&A for additional local resources. The organization specified that queer men are not explicitly at “higher risk.” But the World Health Organization linked the spread in Europe to two queer events, and the case incidence may come from being a part of social or sexual networks that include people with the infection.
“Most cases have been among gay and bisexual men. However, monkeypox is not a “gay disease,” the organization said in a statement. “Anyone can contract the disease, as it is transmitted from one person to another by close physical contact with infectious sores, body fluids, respiratory droplets, and contaminated materials. Heterosexual people, women, transgender and nonbinary people, and others are also at potential risk of monkeypox.”
More information about monkeypox can be found at the Alameda County Public Health Department.
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