NEW YORK (PIX11) – New York City officials continue to defend the response to the monkeypox outbreak. More vaccines are headed to New York City as the need continues to outstrip demand.
“As we get them in, we are getting them out right away. The website is up and operating,” Mayor Eric Adams said Friday.
But the local and federal response has continued to face criticism.
“I’m not surprised at how screwed up this is. It’s the usual government problems,” said Michael Crawford before getting his shot at the Sexual Health Clinic in Chelsea.
Crawford is one of the few fortunate New Yorkers to get a monkeypox vaccine appointment. For others he knows, who are going without the vaccine for now as the virus spreads, he said there is “very high concern, bordering on panic for some people.”
Roughly 40,000 doses have been or are in the process of being distributed across the city. Eighty thousand more doses are coming soon.
New York State has declared monkeypox, which causes painful sores, an imminent health threat. But New York City has so far stopped short of that declaration. Adams said it was under consideration.
There have also been reports of a city health official being re-assigned for suggesting more needs to be done.
“We don’t talk about personnel and what was done with our personnel, but we do it in a fair way,” Adams said.
The federal response has also been sluggish, according to members of the LGBTQ+ community. Getting treatment for monkeypox still requires onerous amounts of paperwork, and simple swab test kits have yet to be approved.
“We are not yet where we need to be on testing, on vaccination, on treatment, and it did not have to be this way, it is very frustrating,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine.
Levine said about 150,000 people in the city are at high risk for monkeypox and need a vaccine. He fears many more doses will be needed as the spread continues.
A growing concern now is also a lack of information about when or if a second dose will become available. In theory, people are supposed to wait four weeks between doses.
New York City is promising to contact people around second doses but has yet to reach out to the vast majority of those who have received first doses. They spoke to him before the health department declined to offer further details about the plan for second doses.
Levine said he agreed with the decision to focus on first doses at this time, but said people are owed more information and communication.