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Monkeypox: RivCo’s latest efforts to increase testing, vaccine availability

State, County and community health leaders came together to discuss their response toward the growing cases of Monkeypox.

There's one confirmed case, and five probable cases, in the Coachella Valley.

“Essentially, it comes to the point of there's much more need than there is vaccines,” said Dr. Jennifer Chevinsky, Riverside County's Deputy Public Health Officer.

In order to increase vaccine availability, the county says it’s working with local partners. “We navigated with DAP health, Eisenhower health, Borrego Health, with the Stonewall clinic specifically, as well as our RUHS EIP clinic that provides a little bit of service to the west end of the county,” said Riverside County Health Specialist Misty Plumley.

Some gay-specific resorts in the valley are taking action to prevent the spread of Monkeypox.

However, access to the vaccine remains limited. “It's still limited, the allocations are still coming through the Strategic National Stockpile. There's still allocations coming to multiple states including California,” Plumley added.

In most cases, doses are being allocated to those at high risk of the virus. As well as healthcare staff that come in close contact with it.

“We were allotted 80. We vaccinated 6 of our front line staff doing the testing and anything to do with the specimen,” said C.J. Tobe, Director of Community Health and Sexual Wellness for DAP Health.

As for those who believe they may have Monkeypox, “Those that have active lesions would not be recommended to get the vaccine at this time," Dr. Chevinsky explained.

Those who have had skin to skin contact with someone who has Monkeypox within 2 weeks, should get tested. “Patients that have met the risk criteria for bacterial STI diagnosis within the last three months, syphilis, gonorrhea, specifically in this group,” Plumley added.

County health officials say testing for the virus has been expanded to commercial labs throughout the Valley. “With that additional pathway, it also helps for specimens to be sent in directly from provider so providers are able to do the swag send it directly in the same way that they typically would.”

By broadening test sites, they say it not only allows more samples to be tested, but the potential for a faster turnaround of results.

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Samantha Lomibao

Samantha joined KESQ News Channel 3 in May 2021. Learn more about Samantha here here.

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