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Santa Clara County expands monkeypox vaccine eligibility and relies on local LGBTQ+ groups to share information


SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) — The Santa Clara County Public Health Department has received more than 1,600 doses of the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine to date, the majority of which arrived on Tuesday. Officials also announced that the department would expand vaccine eligibility.

“Supply is still very limited compared to the needs we have, but it is improving,” Dr. George Han, deputy chief health officer of SCCPHD, told ABC7 News.

The improvement came on Tuesday in the form of 886 more doses of the vaccine.

Han said that under the department’s previous “invitation-only” distribution model, about 60 people had already received it.

“Now, with this new effort this week, we hope to get a lot more vaccines for people who may not have had contact with someone they knew had monkeypox,” said Han.

VIDEO: Hundreds line up as Zuckerberg SF General Clinic reopens for monkeypox vaccines

“Almost anyone in the LGBTQ+ community can get one and that’s awesome,” said Jordan Houseworth of Project MORE.

Highlighting the county’s updated eligibility criteria, he explained his confidence in establishing a much-needed layer of protection for more of the population.

In a statement, the SCCPHD detailed:

Residents of Santa Clara County are now eligible for the monkeypox vaccine if they:

  • Had direct physical contact with a person confirmed to have monkeypox
  • Attended an event or venue where a monkeypox contagious person was present at the event or venue and had direct physical contact with others in attendance
  • Identify as a gay, bisexual, or other cisgender man who has sex with men (MSM), or as a transgender man or woman, who meets at least one of the following risk criteria:
  • Having a recent history of multiple or anonymous sexual partners
  • Participate in group sex
  • Attending on-site sex venues (e.g. bathhouses) or events
  • Work or volunteer at a bathhouse or sex club
  • Having had a bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI), such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis, in the past year
  • practicing sex work

RELATED: Everything You Need to Know About Monkeypox Origin, Infection, Vaccines and Treatment

“We absolutely want to make sure the community stays safe, stays informed and knows the right information. And gets it quickly and in a timely manner,” Houseworth told ABC7 News. “That way we can prevent future outbreaks.”

These are the reasons why SCCPHD partners with local LGBTQ+ organizations.

“The faster you get the word out, the faster you can get the vaccine to people,” said Gabrielle Antolovich, president of the Billy DeFrank LGBTQ Community Center in San Jose.

Antolovich is preparing for a 6 p.m. Thursday night Q&A with county public health officials to discuss the county’s monkeypox rollout. Antolovich said the center has held similar community forums for COVID-19 throughout the pandemic.

RELATED: Bay Area activists protest slow federal response to monkeypox as cases rise

“It’s a big deal,” Antolovich said. “Because when I said, ‘Yes, we can have a community forum, but I can tell you right now, the first question will be: Where can we get the vaccine?’

Han said the county is working to get vaccination clinics online this week, with appointments required.

Depending on supply and logistics, Han said SCCPHD is looking to vaccinate between 100 and 200 people at each site.

“We have already distributed doses to a large health system so they can start vaccinating their patients,” he added.

See more information on expanded SCCPHD vaccine eligibility here.

If you’re on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live

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