In the face of limited supplies of vaccine and growing public concern, the Board of Supervisors this week agreed to lobby federal health officials to bolster local supplies of monkeypox vaccines and boost funding for testing and administration of the shots.
Local health authorities have repeatedly insisted that the odds of contracting monkeypox in the general population is extremely low. But growing case numbers, particularly among gay men, have been heightening public concern about a disease usually restricted to the African continent but now being detected globally.
As of Tuesday, there were 218 known cases in Los Angeles County. That’s up from 120 last week. The county has also confirmed local transmission of the virus, noting that some patients had no known history of recent travel.
The county has been slowly expanding eligibility for the JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine, but supplies remain extremely limited.
In a motion that went before the Board of Supervisors Tuesday, Supervisors Hilda Solis and Janice Hahn noted that future vaccine supplies remain uncertain.
“With the current supply, it is estimated that only 5%-10% of the population that wants to be vaccinated will be reached,” according to the motion. “Given the vaccine can be administered both pre- and post-exposure and the continued spread of the monkeypox virus throughout Los Angeles County, additional vaccine supplies will be needed to expand vaccine eligibility to both prevent further spread and to provide an effective treatment to those who have been exposed.”
The motion also notes that some community health providers have reported that “reimbursement rates for administering monkeypox testing, vaccination and treatment are inconsistent and unsustainably low to support their efforts. In addition, providers remain concerned about their ability to serve the uninsured population without designated funding for these services.”
Under the motion, which was approved unanimously, the county will send a letter signed by all five supervisors to federal health authorities requesting additional supplies of the vaccine in the county, along with efforts at a national level to increase production of the vaccine and the establishment of “sustainable reimbursement levels … for monkeypox testing, vaccine administration and treatment.”
The letter will also call for the establishment of a funding source to reimburse clinics, hospitals and other health care facilities providing such services for uninsured residents.”