LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Los Angeles County and the city will open a monkeypox vaccination site at Barnsdall Art Park Tuesday, but it will only offer vaccines to people who pre-registered with the county and have been notified that a shot is available.
The new site at 4800 Hollywood Blvd. in the East Hollywood area is expected to vaccinate about 300 people per day, operating from noon to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, according to county Supervisor Hilda Solis’ office.
Monkeypox vaccines remain in short supply, so the site will not be open to walk-in visitors seeking an inoculation. Shots will only be distributed to people who pre-registered and received a text message from the county notifying them that a dose is available.
“As the monkeypox outbreak continues, it is critical that we increase accessibility to the vaccine for at-risk communities,” Solis said in a statement. “With the launch of the monkeypox vaccination site at Barnsdall Park, L.A. County is making it easier for residents in hard-hit communities to get vaccinated. I encourage residents to assess their risk and take steps to protect themselves from monkeypox as we wait for additional doses to Los Angeles County.”
The county declared a local emergency in response to the monkeypox outbreak last week. The state and federal government have also issued such declarations.
According to the county, there were 616 confirmed or presumed cases in the county as of Monday, up from about 500 on Friday. The vast majority of patients are men, with most of them being members of the LGBT community, according to the county.
Monkeypox is generally spread through intimate skin-to-skin contact, resulting from infectious rashes and scabs, though respiratory secretions and bodily fluids exchanged during extended physical episodes, such as sexual intercourse, can also lead to transmission, according to the CDC. It can also be transmitted through the sharing of items such as bedding and towels.
Symptoms include fresh pimples, blisters, rashes, fever and fatigue. There is no specific treatment. People who have been infected with smallpox, or have been vaccinated for it, may have immunity to monkeypox.
According to health officials, the vaccine can prevent infection if given before or shortly after exposure to the virus.
Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men are at increased risk of contracting the virus, according to the CDC.
The county has been slowly expanding eligibility for the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine, but supplies remain extremely limited.
In Los Angeles County, monkeypox vaccines are available to people confirmed by the Department of Public Health to have had high- or immediate- risk contact with a known monkeypox patient, and to people who attended an event or visited a venue where they was a high risk of exposure to a confirmed case. Those people are generally identified through county contact-tracing efforts, and they will be notified by the county.
Shots are also available for gay and bisexual men and transgender people with a diagnosis of rectal gonorrhea or early syphilis within the past year. Also eligible for the shots are gay or bisexual men or transgender people who are on HIV pre-exposure prophylaxix, or PrEP, or who attended or worked at a commercial sex venue or other venue where they had anonymous sex or sex with multiple partners — such as at a sauna, bathhouse or sex club — in the past 21 days.
Eligibility was expanded last week to include gay or bisexual men or transgender people aged 18 and older who have had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the past 14 days.
People who believe they fall into any of the criteria can contact their health care provider to see if that provider can administer the vaccine.
Qualified people who do not have a health care provider — or whose provider does not carry the vaccine — can either make an appointment at a designated vaccine clinic or visit a walk-in location. Information is available at ph.lacounty.gov/monkeypox. A list of monkeypox vaccine locations is available at http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/chs/DPHMonkeypoxSchedule.pdf.
The county last week activated a website — ph.lacounty.gov/monkeypoxsignup — where residents can fill out an online form to see if they may be eligible for a shot and pre-register to be added to a waiting list. But due to overwhelming demand and limited vaccine supplies, the pre-registration process was put on hold late last week.
The county last week also opened a monkeypox vaccination site at the West Hollywood Library, 647 N. San Vicente Blvd., for people who pre-registered for the vaccine. It will be open by appointment only from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The vaccine is a two-shot regimen, so additional supplies will be reserved to provide second doses to those who received the initial shot.