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LA County Pauses Registration For Monkeypox Vaccine As State Pleads For More Doses

A vial sits in a blue tray.
A vial of smallpox/monkeypox vaccine.
(Joe Raedle
Getty Images)
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State health officials and elected leaders are calling on the federal government to ramp up its response to the growing monkeypox outbreak.

A letter from the California Department of Public Health to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention makes it clear: California needs a lot more monkeypox vaccines. The state has received 19,500 doses and ordered another 25,000 from the National Strategic Stockpile, but the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) said the state needs another 600,000 to 800,000 doses just to cover the highest risk populations of gay and bisexual men and transgender people.

On Thursday afternoon, saying they were "at capacity," public health officials in L.A. County paused pre-registration for people seeking the vaccine.

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CDPH reports 356 monkeypox cases in California.

Calls For A National Health Emergency

State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon slammed the federal response while speaking at an LGBTQ health center in L.A. Wednesday.

“Had federal officials shown a stronger will to action, more could have been done to stop the spread just using basic public health methods,” Rendon said. “During recent Pride month activities, thousands of those vaccine doses could have been administered at celebratory events, clinics, LGBTQ bars and gathering places throughout the state. That did not happen, and it enabled this spread.”

Rendon called on the federal government to declare a national public health emergency, which would unlock more federal dollars.

Meanwhile, 12 lawmakers including Redon sent a letter to Gov. Newsom, asking for an emergency budget appropriation to help counties expand their monkeypox testing and vaccination efforts.

Due to its size, L.A. County receives its own vaccine allotment. County health officials reported receiving 7,400 doses as of last week, and 5,400 shots have been administered. The county expects another 9,800 doses to arrive this week.

A flow chart explaining who is eligible for a monkeypox vaccine.
(Al Kamalizad/LAist )

The monkeypox vaccine consists of two doses given a few weeks apart, so many more shots will be needed to fully vaccinate people.

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In L.A. County

Prior to pausing monkeypox vaccine registration, L.A. County officials had expanded monkeypox vaccine eligibility earlier this week to include more high-risk groups, including adult men who have sex with men, who recently had anonymous sex or were diagnosed with gonorrhea or syphilis in the last year

L.A. County Chief Medical Officer Rita Singhal said the outbreak is quickly growing.

“There have been 120 cases of monkeypox identified in L.A. County. This is more than double from when we reported 54 cases just eleven days ago,” she said at a press conference Tuesday.

People who test positive for monkeypox and their close contacts were already eligible for the shots.

What questions do you have about the pandemic and health care?
Jackie Fortiér helps Southern Californians understand the pandemic by identifying what's working and what's not in our health response.

Updated July 21, 2022 at 4:09 PM PDT
This story was updated to include news that L.A. County has had to pause registrations for the monkeypox vaccine.
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