County declares local health emergency for Monkeypox | News

Local public health and elected officials today announced the declaration of a local health emergency to respond to monkey pox in the San Diego area.

The move does not indicate that San Diegans is at a higher risk of contracting the virus, but it is intended to reassure the public that local health authorities are working proactively to stay ahead of any challenges. The local health emergency must be ratified by the County Board of Supervisors within 7 days, then re-enforced every 30 days as needed.

“Our county has taken monkeypox very seriously from the beginning and those efforts will continue,” said Nathan Fletcher, the county’s board of supervisors, chairman, who was joined by other elected officials to announce the statement. “Today, the county declares a local monkeypox health emergency to align our efforts with the state of California’s response. This will also enable us to strengthen our province’s vaccination, prevention, education and treatment initiatives.”

The state of emergency authorizes the province to:

  • respond more effectively to monkey pox
  • seeking and using state resources for the administration of vaccines
  • leveraging public health infrastructure related to testing, contact tracing, and case investigation, as well as community outreach and engagement
  • ensuring that county health professionals and other local stakeholders have all the tools they need

“All of these strategies have been developed and reinforced during the COVID-19 response,” said Wilma Wooten, MD, MPH, County Public Health Officer. “To prevent the community-wide spread of monkeypox infection, prevention is key, and this includes vaccinations.”

The province has already taken several measures to counter this emerging threat. It has worked with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community to develop messaging, educational materials and administer the limited number of vaccines coming to the area. The province is also in contact with other local jurisdictions and civil society organizations.

The province has organized a forum, mass vaccination clinics, and a host of other outreach efforts. To date, 3,987 doses of monkeypox vaccine have been received in San Diego County.

As of August 1, a total of 46 confirmed and probable cases were reported. Only one patient had to be hospitalized and there have been no deaths. All cases were male and their ages ranged from 27 to 58 years. The number of cases in the region is now updated daily, Monday through Friday.

an image of a man getting a monkeypox vaccine
A patient receives a monkey pox vaccine during a recent vaccination.

Two vaccinations have already taken place, with more than 1,400 monkeypox vaccines administered in four days. The county has also made doses of vaccine available to local health care providers. Some monkeypox vaccine doses are also available at County Public Health Centers and STD clinics.

The province has also distributed 110 courses of Tecovirimat, a drug used to treat monkeypox, to local health organizations and clinics in the province.

Given the scarcity of the monkeypox vaccine and as directed by the California Department of Public Health, the province is focusing on delivering first doses to as many high-risk people as possible. For the current outbreak, these are men who have sex with multiple male partners and close contacts of reported cases. The County’s approach is in line with strategies in other major jurisdictions with monkeypox outbreaks, including New York City and San Francisco.

The state allocates vaccines to counties based on: the number of monkey pox, as well as the number of early cases of syphilis in men reported in a region.

The county has also set up a text message alert system to send San Diegans real-time information about monkey pox in the region. To sign up to receive the messages, text COSD MONKEYPOX to 468-311. A social media messaging and education campaign is underway to raise awareness about monkey pox.

For more information on monkeypox, how to prevent it, who should be vaccinated, visit the county’s monkeypox website or call 2-1-1.

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