Long Beach declares local monkeypox emergency, expands vaccine eligibility

Long Beach’s city manager declared a local emergency Tuesday in an effort to speed up the local response to monkeypox, a move that follows in the footsteps of Los Angeles County, Orange County and the state of California, which have all recently issued emergency declarations.

The decision unlocks some access to state and federal reimbursements and lets the city act more swiftly in deploying resources, purchasing needed supplies and coordinating across multiple agencies. The City Council must now ratify the local emergency within a week.

At the same time it announced the emergency declaration Tuesday night, Long Beach also expanded who is eligible for a monkeypox vaccine.

Anyone who’s been exposed to the virus can get the vaccine, which can still be effective in preventing disease if it’s administered within a few days of someone being exposed, but, the city has mostly restricted eligibility to the LGBTQ community, where the disease is disproportionately spreading.

On Tuesday night, the city announced it would also start providing shots to immunocompromised residents, “who may be at high risk for severe disease.”

The city also expanded eligibility to include gay or bisexual men and transgender adults who have had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the last 14 days, “including engaging in survival and/or transactional sex (e.g., sex in exchange for shelter, food and other goods and needs).”

The full list of people eligible for the vaccine is as follows:

  • People who were exposed to someone with confirmed monkeypox and do not have symptoms.
  • People who attended an event/venue where there was high risk of exposure to someone with confirmed monkeypox.
  • Gay or bisexual men and transgender persons who are on HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
  • Gay or bisexual men and transgender people who attended saunas, bathhouses, sex clubs, circuit parties or sex parties where they had anonymous sex or sex with multiple partners.
  • Gay or bisexual men and transgender people with a diagnosis of gonorrhea or early syphilis within the past 12 months.
  • Gay or bisexual men and transgender people 18 years of age and older who had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the last 14 days including engaging in survival and/or transactional sex (e.g., sex in exchange for shelter, food and other goods and needs).
  • Residents who are immunocompromised, including those with advanced or uncontrolled HIV, who may be at high risk for severe disease.

Long Beach officials said they’ve vaccinated 620 people so far, but by week’s end, they expect that number to hit 1,400.

Vaccines have been in short supply across the country, but as the city receives more, it will continue to expand who can get a shot.

“By expanding vaccine eligibility even further, we can continue working to slow the spread and quickly protect our highest risk populations,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement.

As of Tuesday, there have been 20 confirmed or presumptive cases of monkeypox in Long Beach, including the first local child to contract the disease.

“Although the number of monkeypox cases are still low, we are taking this response very seriously,” said City Manager Tom Modica.

To get vaccinated, you must pre-register with the city here or at longbeach.gov/monkeypox. If you meet the eligibility criteria, the city will contact you with information on how to get vaccinated when it’s your turn.

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Jeremiah Dobruck is managing editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his journalism career in 2007 as an intern at Palos Verdes Peninsula News and has worked for The Forum Newsgroup in New York City, the Daily Pilot and the Press-Telegram.