Long Beach to start using state appointment system for monkeypox vaccinations

As of Friday, Long Beach residents wanting to get vaccinated against monkeypox will have to use use the state’s MyTurn system to make an appointment, city health officials announced Thursday.

This is a shift away from Long Beach’s current system, where eligible people booked appointments directly through the city. To date, more than 3,800 eligible people signed up for monkeypox vaccination through Long Beach’s earlier pre-registration system, with more than 2,500 doses administered locally, according to health officials. As of Thursday, all eligible people in the pre-registration system have been contacted by the Health Department to schedule a vaccination appointment.

Shifting to the state-run MyTurn system will “help manage efficient and equitable vaccine distribution as supply increases,” according to the Long Beach Health Department.

“We know the MyTurn system, which we used during the pandemic, will help bring even more efficiency to our efforts of vaccine access and distribution,” said Mayor Robert Garcia.

Starting next week, city-run monkeypox vaccine clinics will be included in the open appointment slots on MyTurn, according to city health officials.

Since the city’s first case on July 16, there have been 50 probable and confirmed monkeypox infections in Long Beach, city health officials said Thursday. Although it is not spread only through sexual contact, monkeypox has primarily spread among men who have sex with men in the U.S.

All 50 individuals who’ve contracted the disease in Long Beach identify as male, according to Health Department spokesperson Jennifer Rice Epstein. Just one of the cases required hospitalization, while the remaining cases have recovered or are isolating and recovering at home, according to health officials.

Starting this week, city health officials also started stretching their vaccine doses by administering the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine through intradermal injection, which is given between the layers of the skin, according to health officials. This allows people to receive a smaller dose than the previous subcutaneous injection, allowing officials to continue vaccinations despite national shortages, according to the city health department.

Even with a lower vaccine dose, vaccination in this method still produces an immune response, according to health officials. The vaccine also still requires two doses, administered a month apart.

While anyone can contract monkeypox, vaccination is currently only open to the following individuals:

  • 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 who had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the last 14 days including engaging in survival and/or transactional sex.
  • Residents who are immunocompromised, including those with advanced or uncontrolled HIV, who may be at high risk for severe disease.
  • People experiencing homelessness with high-risk behaviors.

Monkeypox symptoms include fever, muscle aches, chills, exhaustion and painful lesions that can appear on the face, inside the mouth or on other parts of the body like the hands, feet, chest, genitals and anus. While monkeypox can cause death, its fatality rate is very low, according to health officials.

City health officials ask all residents to visit longbeach.gov/monkeypox for up-to-date facts on monkeypox.

Explainer: Monkeypox has arrived in Long Beach. Who’s at risk and who can get vaccinated?

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Anthony Pignataro is an investigative reporter and editor for the Long Beach Post. He has close to three decades of experience in journalism leading numerous investigations and long-form journalism projects for the OC Weekly and other publications. He joined the Post in May 2021.
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