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Long Lines, Confusion And Few Appointments Available For Those Seeking Monkeypox Vaccines

A long line of people, some carrying umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun, stand on a sidewalk outside of a low-rise building with a large green lawn.
A long outdoor wait for people waiting to be vaccinated against monkeypox at Watkins Park in Watts
(Brian De Los Santos
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Los Angeles County health officials closed the new online waiting list for the monkeypox vaccine last Thursday, just one day after it went live. The Public Health Department said demand exceeded the supply of vaccine doses allotted for the pre-registration group.

Earlier this week, health officials expanded eligibility criteriato include more high-risk groups, including adult men who have sex with men and transgender people who recently had anonymous sex or were diagnosed with gonorrhea or syphilis in the last year, as well as people who take PrEP, an HIV prevention drug.

That meant that L.A. resident Taylor Slingerland now qualified. He signed up on Thursday during the few hours the waiting list was open to receive a call or text when it was his turn. While on the website, he also saw walk-up vaccine site information, so he decided to go get the shot that day. But when he got to a vaccine site at Obregon Park, health workers said he was no longer eligible.

“They said, ‘actually, we just now modified the criteria’. And they gave me a form that I would have to bring to my doctor to complete to say that I had other conditions to meet the eligibility requirements,” Slingerland said.

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Slingerland said he felt frustrated.

“I was just confused, and why there wasn't a supervisor on site that could better explain it to me," he said, "because I did ask to speak to whoever had given them these orders to change their criteria, because it sounded like it had happened minutes before I arrived. And they said that that person had left for the day and was no longer there."

The information given to him was incorrect. A Public Health spokesperson told LAist that people taking PrEP remain eligible for the vaccine, but with most doses already spoken for, the online sign-up portal will be paused until more doses arrive. Walk-ups are discouraged.

Slingerland was one of the lucky few who did sign up in time, and received a text message from the L.A. County Department of Public Health Friday informing him he could get the first dose today.

He says the confusion may lead to fewer people getting vaccinated.

People stand outside in long lines to receive the monkeypox vaccine.
People stand in long lines at Obregon Park, an L.A. County monkeypox vaccine site. Doses are extremely limited.
Courtesy of Taylor Slingerland )

“My husband was like, 'maybe you could wait for me and we could go get it together this weekend.' And then he found out that there seems to be this block now, where he is not able to register," Slingerland said. "So that's why I'm probably just going to be going by myself today to get it, but I would love for him to be able to be protected as well.”

As of Friday, those with a text from the county faced long lines at the monkeypox vaccine sites.

State health officials have called on the federal government to send hundreds of thousands of doses, but L.A. County will only receive another 9,800 doses this week.

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