L.A. County expands monkeypox vaccine access

As criticism from LGBTQ activists and others mounts, the Los Angeles County Department of Health said it would extend eligibility for the monkeypox vaccine to certain patients with recent sexually transmitted diseases and to high-risk individuals in the Men’s Central Penitentiary.

Still, eligibility remains limited to those most at risk, and officials are reporting a serious shortage of Jynneos vaccine that likely won’t be fixed for months.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services “has really pushed to let us know that there’s more — a lot more — to come,” said Andrea Kim, LA County’s director of vaccine-preventable disease control. “By the end of the year, we expect to have millions of Jynneos doses available.”

However, some in the LGBTQ community are concerned that such a schedule will be too late to prevent spread, which could potentially result in monkeypox becoming a permanent threat in the US, with a rise in cases, with an increase of around 60% week-to-week across California and Los Angeles County. Cases have doubled in San Francisco.

Two San Francisco state lawmakers, both Democrats, have criticized federal officials for not having enough vaccine doses.

“Monkeypox is a growing public health concern in our community. While the virus can infect anyone, gay and bisexual men are particularly affected,” Senator Scott Wiener and Member of Parliament Matt Haney said in a joint statement. “We have very little time to contain this outbreak and prevent it from getting out of control and potentially becoming endemic.

“The federal government has suffered another public health failure, this time by failing to order enough vaccine doses to prepare for this predictable outbreak,” Wiener and Haney wrote. “The federal government needs to dramatically increase supplies of the vaccine and get it distributed to affected local communities as soon as possible. We have no time to lose.”

Giving the Jynneos vaccine early can help prevent monkeypox even after a person has been exposed to the virus.

The vaccine is given in two doses 28 days apart and a person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose. This means that after the first dose, it takes around six weeks for the greatest protection to be achieved. Even then, completing a two-dose vaccination series only provides 85% protection, said Dr. Dawn Terashita, Associate Director of LA County’s Acute Communicable Disease Control Program.

The vaccine “should not be viewed as some kind of 100 percent protective measure,” Terashita said. “Everyone should always take precautions to prevent disease transmission.”

LGBTQ organizations and county officials are stepping up efforts to spread information on how to avoid infection.

“For the best prevention, avoid close physical contact — both sexual and nonsexual — with people who have symptoms of illness, sores, or skin rashes,” says a fact sheet from the Los Angeles LGBT Center. “Talk to your sexual partner(s) about any recent illnesses, possible exposures, and any new sores or rashes.”

There will be a virtual town hall on Tuesday at 6 p.m. where monkeypox will be discussed

Officials are urging people at high risk of exposure to self-check for signs of infection — such as rashes, bumps, blisters and pus-filled sores — and if found, isolate and see a doctor. Other symptoms include fever and headache, muscle pain, and swollen lymph nodes.

Officials are also urging people to check if sex partners have any signs of a monkeypox rash or bump, which sometimes first appears on the genital area or in or around the anus.

“In many cases, people develop a rash with or without other symptoms in the current outbreak, and this rash is often concentrated in the genital region,” Terashita said.

If you see a rash or a bump, “try to isolate yourself as much as possible to prevent spreading the disease to others. Be sure to monitor yourself for signs of early illness — perhaps a fever, fatigue, or any type of rash. And as soon as you have any symptoms, by all means isolate yourself,” Terashita said.

“If a person develops a rash, we want them to be isolated,” confirmed Dr. Leo Moore, Medical Director for Clinical Services for the LA County Department of Health. “We also encourage them to either come to a sexual health clinic or go to their GP and get tested for monkeypox.”

Monkeypox rash can be difficult to distinguish from other more common infections, such as syphilis.

Monkeypox infections can be painful and cause symptoms so severe that patients need to be prescribed pain medication. The illness can last two to four weeks and can lead to a rash that spreads over the entire body.

Monkeypox is primarily transmitted through skin-to-skin contact with someone who has a rash and pus-filled sores. It can also be transmitted through contact with virus-containing materials, such as bedding and towels, and possibly through close contact with respiratory droplets from an infected person’s mouth, nose, and eyes.

No one in LA County has been hospitalized or died from monkeypox, and the affected tribe — the West African — is rarely fatal. Of the 7,500 cases worldwide, there have been three deaths; according to dr Rita Singhal, chief medical officer of the county department of public health, did not appear in the United States.

Still, some people can experience significant complications, such as: B. People with a weakened immune system and people with a history of eczema. Rare complications can include lesions in the eye that endanger vision.

LA County’s extended eligibility for the monkeypox vaccine applies to gay and bisexual men and transgender women who have been diagnosed with rectal gonorrhea or early syphilis within the past three months — both of which can increase your risk of transmission of monkeypox — and Patients are from a sexual health clinic. Also newly eligible will be a limited number of high-risk individuals identified by clinical staff at the Men’s Central Jail.

In LA County, people with known exposure to a confirmed case of monkeypox and people who attended an event where there was a high risk of exposure to a confirmed case are already eligible for the vaccine.

Anyone eligible for the vaccine must be invited to receive it. The health ministry or clinics will approach eligible patients directly, Kim said. Starting next week, she said, the county will begin distributing vaccine doses for administration to community sexual health clinics.

“Because Jynneos’ vaccine supply in the United States is extremely limited, residents who have not been contacted have been informed of [the L.A. County Department of] Public health partners or clinics cannot be vaccinated at this time,” the agency said in a statement. “Public Health will expand eligibility as additional doses become available; The federal government expects to distribute more doses later this month.”

dr Ward Carpenter, director of health services for the Los Angeles LGBT Center, said the county’s plan to target those who are already being treated for STDs is the right approach given how the monkeypox virus behaves like a STD .

“The obvious goal here is to get vaccines to vulnerable people,” Carpenter said. “Then we really start to get a better level of protection for the community and that will limit the outbreak.”

Carpenter reiterated public health recommendations to seek medical attention and be tested for any symptoms or developments on the skin. Even people with rashes or spots that don’t look like typical monkeypox lesions have recently come back positive for the virus, Carpenter said.

“If you’ve got something on your skin, get in there and be seen,” Carpenter said.

Only about 1,000 doses of the Jynneos vaccine have been administered in LA County. Another 6,000 cans have recently arrived.

About 700 cases of monkeypox have been reported in the United States and 141 in California. Los Angeles County reported 54 cases Friday morning, up from 47 the day before; San Francisco reported 40 cases Tuesday, up from 16 a week earlier.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-07-09/l-a-expands-monkeypox-vaccine-access-as-cases-keep-rising-but-many-say-it-is-not-enough L.A. County expands monkeypox vaccine access

Alley Einstein

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