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‘Hotspot waiting to happen’: Concern grows over Monkeypox vaccine availability in Palm Springs

When people in Riverside County right now try to find a vaccine or a test for Monkeypox, some are saying the process is confusing and stressful.

Vaccines are just starting to be administered locally and there are hundreds, if not more, already waiting for their protection.

David Wichman is a Cathedral City sex worker and massage therapist. With concern growing among the gay community about Monkeypox, he said his business has dried up.

"No one's been in here in over a week," Wichman said.

Vaccines aren't being allocated to Palm Springs quickly enough to get ahead of an outbreak in Monkeypox cases, Wichman said.

"We're a hotspot waiting to happen. That's what it feels like to me," he said. "That rollout has been really slow and very aggravating."

So far, Riverside County has gotten 1,100 doses from the state, which locally went to DAP Health, Eisenhower Health and Borrego Health.

DAP Health received 80 of those vaccines, despite having a list of 700 patients eligible.

"By the end of Tuesday, all vaccines will be distributed and administered. Upon which we'll be sending another email...saying, 'Hey, give us more vaccines,'" said CJ Tobe, DAP Health's director of community health and sexual wellness.

In Palm Springs, gay resort All Worlds took action and closed its sex club, The Maze, indefinitely, until more Monkeypox vaccines are available – something county officials say they're working on.

"If we don't get in front of it now, this won't only be a hotspot, but there will be a lot of people infected that shouldn't be," Wichman said.

Anyone in close physical contact with someone who has been infected with Monkeypox is at risk of catching the disease, regardless of sexual orientation.

So far in Riverside County, 6 people have probable or confirmed cases of Monkeypox. 11 people have been tested for it through the county public health department, but testing is starting to expand to commercial labs.

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Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.

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