San Francisco has declared a state of emergency in response to the growing spread of monkeypox cases across the city.
As of 27 July, 261 people had confirmed or probable monkeypox infections, with health officials warning the figure is likely to rise.
The city’s mayor London Breed tweeted: “San Francisco is declaring a Local Public Health Emergency for monkeypox.
“This declaration will go into effect starting August 1 and will allow us to prepare and dedicate resources to prevent the spread.
“This virus impacts everyone, but our LGBTQ community is seeing significant cases and we need action, we need more vaccines.”
The emergency declaration includes measure such as:
• Mobilising City resources
• Accelerating emergency planning
• Streamlining city staffing
• Coordinating agencies across the city
• Raising awareness about how everyone can stop the spread of monkeypox
San Francisco Health Officer Susan Philip said: “We want the flexibility to be able to use our resources to best serve the public and protect health.
“We also want to affirm our commitment to the health of our LGBTQ communities in San Francisco, as we have historically always done as a city,” she added, referring to the population most impacted by monkeypox so far.
Ms Breed also offered support for LGBTQ community members who are “scared and frustrated”, assuring them that the local emergency “will allow us to continue to support our most at-risk, while also better preparing for what’s to come”.
According to reports, San Francisco has received about 8,200 doses of the Jynneos vaccine, which is intended to prevent monkeypox and smallpox in adults.
However, Ms Breed said in a written statement: “A few weeks ago, the San Francisco Department of Public Health requested 35,000 vaccines to start to get at those most at risk for contracting the virus.
“So far, in the last three weeks, we’ve barely received a third of that request.
“That is not nearly enough, and the reality is we are going to need far more than 35,000 vaccines to protect our LGBTQ community and to slow the spread of this virus.
“We are aware that there is a vaccine shortage across the country, but despite that, these vaccines need to be distributed quickly to places like San Francisco that have a disproportionate share of cases.”