By next month, West Hollywood residents won’t need to drive to Santa Clarita in order to get the monkeypox vaccine from L.A. County — they’ll be able to get them in WeHo.
Councilmember John Erickson shared the news with the audience at Wednseday night’s Monkeypox Town Hall co-hosted by the city and the L.A. Blade. Further details are forthcoming.
The town hall brought together medical experts and LGBTQ advocates to field questions from the public on the unfolding pandemic.
WHAT WE LEARNED
● There have been 261 cases of monkeypox identified in LA County. All of the cases have been an adult with the median age of 35 years. Additionally, whereas two weeks ago, over half of the cases in La County were associated with domestic and international travel. Now less than 40% of cases are local transmission.
● As of Friday, the highest percentage of cases — 55% or 89 cases — were in the area that includes West Hollywood.
● To date, L.A. County has received just over 24,000 doses of the monkeypox vaccine of which 16,000 or two-thirds have been distributed to public and community vaccination partners.
● The L.A. area’s bathhouses are reportedly participating in a vaccination drive this coming weekend, and will offer walk-up service. Few details were revealed and the panelists were vague on this development.
WHAT IT’S LIKE TO HAVE MONKEYPOX
“First week I developed very intense flu-like symptoms. Sore throat, fever, full-body chills, sweating through my sheets at night. It was a quite miserable experience. And, you know, those symptoms lasted around five to seven days. As those began to abate, more and more lesions began to appear all over my body. The first lesions that appeared were in more sensitive areas, followed by more on my face and then as the infection went on, they appeared all over my body — arms, shoulders. I think there’s one of my scalp. I counted more than 25 total. These were excruciatingly painful —constantly, to the point that I was unable to sleep at night and I had to go back to my doctor and be prescribed narcotic pain pillars in order to be able to even go to sleep.” — Matthew Ford, actor in WeHo
THE APPS ARE DOING THEIR PART
“Apps can definitely play a role. So while people blame them for a lot of STD and HIV prevention for a lot of cases. Sorry, they also play a key role in prevention. In terms of messaging, some of the apps and stepped right away: Grindr sent three messages out nationally, which is a big lift for them. We’ve also had Hornet, Sniffies, Adam 4 Adam…”
ELIBILITY FOR THE VACCINE
So now I’m going to talk about vaccine eligibility. Residents who are eligible for vaccine now, fall into two groups, the first group are residents who are identified through public health investigation and invited to get vaccinated. These residents have been eligible for vaccine since we had administered doses, when we started back in May. They include persons confirmed by public health to have high or intermediate risk, contact with someone with monkeypox, so skin-to-skin, contact or prolonged exposure to someone with monkeypox as defined by CDC. And persons, who attended an event or venue, where there was high risk of exposure to an individual with confirmed Monkeypox through skin to skin contact or sexual contact. Public health works with event and venue organizers to identify persons, who may have been present at that event and at risk for exposure. And then extends invitation to these people. The next group, group B, is where we expanded eligibility last week. Group B applies to gay or bisexual men and transgender persons who meet any of the following criteria. They were diagnosed with gonorrhea or early syphilis within the past 12 months. So this criteria had been previously limited to three months diagnosis, and also, the diagnosis for gonorrhea, had been specific for rectal gonorrhea, which we now have expanded to all gonorrhea. The second criteria is an individual who is on HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis. And the third criteria is attended or worked at a commercial sex venue or other venue where they had anonymous sex or sex with multiple male partners. So for example, saunas, bath houses, sex clubs, etc, within the past 21 days. So if someone falls under group three, there are several ways that they can get vaccinated. There are four pathways for people to access vaccine. And I want to apologize that this is so complicated. We’re hoping with our next allocation, if it’s large enough, we can really simplify this. But at the moment there are four pathways. The first is that people can contact their doctor or health care provider to see if they’re a monkeypox vaccine provider. We now have a list of providers who are actively vaccinating on our website. There are at least 20 community provider vaccinations sites and this list is growing every day. We plan to update this list hopefully tomorrow as new providers have started to vaccinate. The other option is people can visit a public monkeypox vaccine location which are our public health pods. They can bring their ID and provide one of the following. They can provide proof of gonorrhea or early syphilis infection in the last 12 months in the form of a lab report. Or they can provide a monkey pox provider attestation form completed by their doctor so they can ask their doctor to complete and a test that they meet one of the eligibility criteria or at least one. So they can come with that form and come up to the public back to the vaccine clinic and that would be verification. Or finally a text message with your name from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, inviting residents to get vaccinated.”