Californians increasingly searching for limited monkeypox vaccines

People line up get vaccinated against the monkeypox virus
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Eight of the top 10 metro areas searching online for nearby monkeypox vaccines over the last week were in California.

California cities — including Los Angeles, Palm Springs and San Francisco — are leading the nation in online searches for monkeypox vaccines, underscoring the growing challenge of finding and accessing the limited doses as cases of the rare virus continue to rise.

Eight of the top 10 metro areas searching online for nearby monkeypox vaccines over the last week were in California, according to Google Trends. The Jynneos vaccine, which has been approved for protection from monkeypox preventatively and post-exposure, remains in short supply across the nation. Clinics report long waitlists and lines snaking around city blocks when shots are available.

As #monkeypox outbreaks continue to occur both globally and nationally, people are searching for where they can get the vaccine.4 of the top 5 metro areas searching for “monkeypox vaccine near me” over the past week are coming from California.— GoogleTrends (@GoogleTrends) August 1, 2022

San Francisco and Los Angeles together make up about two-thirds of California’s almost 800 monkeypox cases.

Presumed or confirmed cases have almost doubled in L.A. County over the last week, climbing to 400 Monday. In San Francisco, 305 cases were reported Friday, up almost 55% from a week prior. San Francisco has since declared a state of emergency amid the growing spread.

The majority of cases in California have been confirmed in men who identify as gay, bisexual or part of the LGBTQ community, as the virus continues to spread mainly among men who have sex with men as well as transgender or nonbinary people.

While monkeypox isn’t considered a sexually transmitted disease, it spreads easily during sexual encounters or other close skin-to-skin contact, experts say. It also can spread on towels or bedding that have touched the virus and through respiratory secretions, such as during kissing.

California health officials say the risk of monkeypox to the general public remains low as it spreads much less easily compared to an airborne virus such as the coronavirus. However, monkeypox can spread to anyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, and has been confirmed in two children and a pregnant woman.

In California and across the nation, the supply of monkeypox vaccines remains extremely limited, which has led many county health departments to limit access to those meeting certain eligibility requirements.

Health officials say such regulations will allow them to reach those most at risk of contracting the illness, but the limitations have created frustration among many, especially in the LGBTQ community.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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