Public health clinics running out of monkeypox vaccine as lines form and systems crash

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As lines stretched around the block at San Francisco General Hospital with people waiting to get vaccinated against monkeypox, public health officials said Wednesday the city had only 50 remaining doses.

It's one of multiple cities reporting surging demand for the vaccine. The disease, a milder cousin of smallpox, was first found in the United States in May. Cases have been reported in all but 10 states as of Wednesday, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tallied almost 1,000 cases nationwide.

"This exhaustion of existing vaccine supply is happening exactly as San Francisco and other communities continue to see increases in monkeypox infections and exposures," said California state senator Scott Wiener, whose district includes San Francisco.

In New York City, the public health appointment system for scheduling vaccinations crashed Tuesday. The city's public health agency posted Wednesday "there are no appointments currently available" but that more vaccine was expected later in the week.

In Los Angeles, the Department of Public Health offers vaccine by invitation only to people who have a known exposure or are at high risk of one. The city had 70 confirmed cases as of Wednesday.

The vaccine protects against monkeypox but can also be given after exposure to prevent illness, the CDC said.

The plans to release more than 1.6 million doses of the monkeypox vaccine Jynneos by the end of the year, but demand is so high that the 56,000 doses released in June have almost all been used.

The disease, which is being spread primarily among gay and in this outbreak, is caused by a virus in the same family as smallpox. It is transmitted person-to-person, usually through close contact with respiratory secretions, infected or recently contaminated objects, according to the World Health Organization.

Symptoms can begin to appear seven to 14 days after exposure and include fever, muscle aches, exhaustion and a rash that can appear on the body. While it can be fatal in areas with poor medical care, no deaths have been reported in the U.S. outbreak.

Gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men are at highest risk for monkeypox in this outbreak. Health officials say people who have had a diagnosed with monkeypox, as well as men who have had sex with other men who have had multiple sexual partners in areas where monkeypox cases are rising, should get vaccinated.

People can take steps to protect themselves from infection by avoiding close, skin-to-skin contact, including intimate contact, with someone who has monkeypox, the CDC said.

Testing for monkeypox was initially difficult in the U.S. as laboratories were not equipped for it. As of Wednesday, several national laboratory chains were offering the test, and it's anticipated that capacity will reach up to 60,000 specimens per week by the end of the month, the CDC said.

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