Local public health and elected officials announced today the declaration of a local health emergency to respond to monkeypox in the San Diego region.
The action does not indicate that San Diegans are at higher risk of contracting the virus, but is intended to reassure the public that local health authorities are working proactively to stay ahead of any challenges that may arise. The local health emergency must be ratified within 7 days by the County Board of Supervisors and will need to be ratified again every 30 days thereafter, as needed.
“Our county has taken monkeypox very seriously from the beginning, and those efforts will continue,” said County Board of Supervisors Chairman Nathan Fletcher, who was joined by other elected officials in announcing the statement. “Today, the County is declaring a local monkeypox health emergency to align our efforts with the approach taken by the State of California. This will also allow us to strengthen our county’s vaccination, prevention, education and treatment initiatives.”
The emergency declaration empowers the County to:
- responds most effectively to monkeypox
- seek and utilize state resources for vaccine administration
- leverage public health infrastructure related to testing, contact tracing and case investigation, and community outreach and engagement
- ensure that county health professionals and other local actors have all the necessary tools at their disposal
“All of these strategies were developed and strengthened during the response to COVID-19,” said Wilma Wooten, MD, MPH, county public health officer. “To prevent the community-wide spread of monkeypox infection, prevention is the key, and that includes vaccines.”
The county has already taken numerous actions to deal with this evolving threat. She has worked with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community to develop messages, educational materials and administer the limited number of vaccines that come to the area. The County has also communicated with other local jurisdictions and community organizations.
The county has developed a forum, mass vaccination clinics and many other outreach efforts. To date, 3,987 doses of monkeypox vaccine have been received in San Diego County.
As of August 1, a total of 46 confirmed and probable cases have been reported. Only one patient required hospitalization and there were no deaths. All cases were male and their ages ranged from 27 to 58 years. The region’s case count will now be updated daily, Monday through Friday.
Two vaccination events have already taken place, where more than 1,400 monkeypox vaccines have been administered over four days. The county has also made vaccine doses available to local health care providers. Several doses of monkeypox vaccine are also available at District Public Health Centers and STD clinics.
The county has also distributed 110 treatment courses of Tecovirimat, a drug used to treat monkeypox, to local health care organizations and county clinics.
Given the lack of monkeypox vaccine and as directed by the California Department of Public Health, the County is focusing on giving the first doses to as many people at high risk as possible. For the current outbreak, this includes men who have sex with multiple male partners and close contacts of reported cases. The county’s approach is consistent with strategies in other major jurisdictions with monkeypox outbreaks, including New York City and San Francisco.
The state assigns vaccines to districts based on the number of monkeypox, as well as the number of early male syphilis cases reported in a region.
The county also created a text message alert system to send San Diegans real-time information about monkeypox in the region. To sign up to receive messages, text COSD MONKEYPOX to 468-311. An education and social media messaging campaign is underway to raise awareness about monkeypox.
For more information on monkeypox, how to prevent it, who should be vaccinated, visit County Monkeypox Web page or call 2-1-1.