APLA Health Demands More Aggressive Government Response to Monkeypox Outbreak
APLA Health is calling on the Biden Administration, the State of California and Los Angeles County to increase the supply of monkeypox vaccine as quickly as possible. The County is in the middle of a dangerous and growing monkeypox outbreak – with 82 confirmed cases and counting. The vast majority of these cases have been among gay and bisexual men and hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ+ Angelenos are now at risk.
Monkeypox is without doubt a looming public health crisis for the LGBTQ+ community. The federal government, state and county must act with greater urgency to stop further spread of this entirely preventable disease.
APLA Health is working closely with the County Department of Public Health to expand local access to the vaccine as rapidly and equitably as possible. Today, DPH reported that over 5,000 vaccines have been provided to county and community partners. An additional 9,000 doses are expected to be distributed shortly. Patients who have been vaccinated thus far include those with close contacts of confirmed cases or people who attended events where there was a high risk of exposure.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), LA County will have received 17,158 doses of the highly effective JYNNEOS vaccine as of July 14. The Department of Public Health reports that vaccine has been distributed to 42 sites in LA County, including 8 DPH sites.
APLA Health has received just 300 of these doses, nowhere near enough to vaccinate all of our patients in need. Like all clinics involved, APLA Health is extremely frustrated with the limited vaccine supply.
LA County has asked clinics to prioritize our patients at greatest risk of exposure. This currently only includes gay and bisexual men and transgender women who have been diagnosed with rectal gonorrhea or early syphilis within the past 3 months. APLA Health will be contacting eligible patients directly in the coming days to schedule vaccination appointments.
Until we receive greater amounts of vaccine from LA County, only patients who are contacted directly by APLA Health will be able to receive the vaccine at this time. Calling or coming to an APLA Health location with hopes of receiving the vaccine is not recommended.
If you are currently eligible to receive the vaccine but are not currently an APLA Health patient, DPH has 3 walk-up sites and 5 appointment-only sites where you can obtain the JYNNEOS vaccine. Proof of eligibility includes a doctor’s attestation or an appropriate and verifiable test result on paper or shown from the patient’s phone, including a screenshot of the result or within a patient portal. See DPH’s Clinic and POD schedule for locations and hours.
The vaccine shortage is entirely the responsibility of the federal government. Both the JYNNEOS vaccine (and older smallpox vaccines) are held in reserve by the National Strategic Stockpile in case of national emergencies. The JYNNEOS vaccine is produced by only one small manufacturer in Denmark. HHS reports that the U.S. has ordered an additional 2.5 million doses of the vaccine. It is not clear when these will be available. APLA Health is reaching out to Congressional offices to pressure the Administration to increase vaccine supply immediately before the current outbreak causes even more harm to the LGBTQ+ community. We are losing precious time.
APLA Health is also demanding greater transparency and accountability from the LA County Board of Supervisors and Department of Public Health. Exactly how many doses does LA County currently have on hand? Which community clinics and public health sites will be administering the vaccine and how many doses have they received? How soon will these doses be administered? When will Angelenos have access to the vaccine if they don’t currently meet the eligibility criteria?
We call on the Department of Public Health to launch a public dashboard as soon as possible where LA County residents can access real time information about vaccine access and distribution. We will continue to demand action until all members of our community have access to the vaccine and the information they need to protect themselves.
We will immediately share any new updates with the community as soon as we receive them in the “key updates” section of the Monkeypox page on our website.
Additional information is available from the LA County Department of Public Health.