They wear face masks, keep social distance from others, and follow ground rules from the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.The dire need for a vaccine far outstrips what federal and state governments can supply. was
But local hospitals and clinics have had to rely on inconsistent and inadequate vaccine supplies, and many leave empty-handed. This dilemma infuriates patients and advocates.
San Francisco General Hospital opens its clinic doors at 8:00 a.m. and the line moves slowly. Hospitals will distribute available doses until supplies run out.
For Cody Aarons, 31, it was his third try. He stood quietly with over 100 people already in front of him.
“Last month I was in New York on business and I tried their online portal system and couldn’t get the vaccine,” he said, thinking San Francisco might have a better chance. said a medical worker.
However, 45 minutes after the start of distribution on the day, a hospital employee passed by with an announcement. “I’ve reached my limit for today, folks,” he exclaimed. “But we’ll try to find you more shots.”
There was no guarantee that he would get the monkeypox vaccine that day, but Aarons and nearly everyone in line stayed put.
“People want the vaccine,” said Rafael Mandelman, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
Mandelman, who woke up at 4:30 a.m. and waited hours to get the vaccine a few days earlier, is frustrated by the development.
“After getting through the pandemic we were able to discover a new vaccine, [and] With tens of millions of doses to be distributed in a matter of months, the fact that existing known vaccines can’t get more than these tiny little drops is very frustrating for people. is.
hopeless and terrifying
For healthcare workers, the outbreak is a frustrating new chapter following the punishing Covid-19 pandemic.
“At the peak of Covid vaccinations, we averaged 1,400 to 1,500 doses (dosages) per day, so we are completely used to the mass vaccination process,” nurse manager Merjo Roca said.
But the lack of vaccines limits what Roca and her staff can do.
San Francisco health officials initially requested 35,000 doses, but were only able to get 12,000 doses from the federal stockpile. California has notified city leaders that San Francisco will receive an additional 10,700 in its next allocation But there is no clear indication of when those doses will arrive or how many will arrive at San Francisco General Hospital for distribution.
“I think one of our biggest challenges is really the supply mismatch,” says Roca. “Our vaccine clinic helps people as they walk through our door and is proud to be able to vaccinate them. Please let us know when your next dose is.”
Many in line fear the rapid rise in monkeypox cases, further straining clinic staff as they are unable to reach everyone.
“It’s very difficult to hear someone explain why we need vaccines and why we need vaccines.
“It was like someone had put a hole punch all over my body.”
The government claims it acted urgently on the data. There is also a distinct difference between the current response and the response to HIV/AIDS. But some advocates say the government’s lack of urgency to address the public health crisis affecting the queer community today reflects what gay men experienced decades ago. said.
Exchanges between then-President Ronald Reagan’s press secretary and reporters in 1982 and 1983 show that the country’s senior officials and mainstream society viewed the disease as a joke and not a major concern.
This stems from the perception that AIDS was a “gay plague” and is thought to be associated with homosexual lifestyles and behaviors, but it has , there have also been reported cases of people getting injections. drug.
Now, more than 40 years later, the gay community is once again grappling with the feeling of being outcast and neglected by their own governments.
San Francisco AIDS Foundation CEO Tyler Tamia said, “We have faced many challenges for a long time, and we are committed to addressing this issue for a community that has long been marginalized in our community. We have a responsibility not to stigmatize or politicize it further.”Dating back to the early days of the HIV epidemic in our country, we have seen our communities abandoned by the federal response.” ‘ he said.
According to TerMeer, the foundation opened its doors in 1982 “at a moment of crisis in our community when the federal government abandoned us.”
“President Biden urges us to consider all options on the table to combat the monkeypox outbreak and protect at-risk communities,” said Robert Fenton, the White House National Monkeypox Response Coordinator. “We are applying the lessons learned from the battles we have fought, from COVID response to wildfires to measles, and approaching this outbreak with the urgency this moment demands. will work on.”
According to the CDC, monkeypox is a poxvirus related to smallpox and cowpox that usually causes acne- and blistering-like lesions, as well as flu-like symptoms such as fever.
Lesions are usually concentrated on the arms and legs, but recent outbreaks have appeared more frequently in the genital and perianal regions, raising concerns that monkeypox lesions may be confused with STDs. I’m here.
“I had 600 to 800 lesions all over my body…it was like someone had a hole punch all over my body. There were places where I couldn’t walk or touch things,” Kevin Kwong said. Told. He recently recovered from monkeypox after being diagnosed in early July.
He documented his ordeal on social media to raise awareness of the outbreak and now wants to “focus on removing the stigma in the gay community.”
According to the World Health Organization, as of August 3, there were 25,054 laboratory-confirmed cases and 122 probable cases.
But while the outbreak has disproportionately affected some gay communities, there are growing concerns about the spread of the disease.
“This is a reminder that anyone, regardless of age or sexual orientation, can get monkeypox if exposed to the virus,” the city of Long Beach warned, adding that while children are at low risk of infection, , they are “more likely to be exposed to monkeypox if they live in a community with a high infection rate or have recently traveled.”
“We all need to mobilize quickly on this issue. There is a looming window of time to anticipate monkeypox’s rapid spread across the country, but that window remains closed. ”
CNN’s Harmeet Kaur, Augie Martin, Jen Christiansen, Carma Hassan, and Carolyn Sung contributed to this article.