PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There’s growing fear and frustration about the escalating monkeypox outbreak and questions about the Philadelphia Health Department and its handling of the crisis.
The Philadelphia Health Department says it will be getting thousands of additional doses of vaccine, but it still won’t be enough.READ MORE: Several People Injured After Tree Falls During West Philadelphia High School Reunion Party At Fairmount Park
“It doesn’t feel as if there is an organized structured plan from the Department of Public Health,” Philadelphia City Councilmember Cindy Bass said.
With monkeypox cases increasing in Philadelphia now at 82 and limited vaccine, Bass, the chair of City Council’s Committee on Public Health, says the health department needs to take more of a leadership role in the monkeypox crisis.
“We have not had direct communication which — which is a little bit frustrating in and of itself,” Bass said. “This is very much deja vu from COVID. We have a situation where we have an emerging outbreak and we don’t have the kind of response that we need.”
The Health Department declined our request for an interview but did provide updated numbers. The city has now received 2,625 doses of the monkeypox vaccine. To stretch supplies, the department is only giving one instead of the recommended two doses.
“I fear that we’re looking at kind of like the tip of the iceberg,” Dusty Latimer said.READ MORE: Encampment Outside University City Townhomes Refuses To Budge, Despite Court Order Demanding Them To Move Out
Latimer, a physician assistant at the Mazzoni Center, which is distributing the monkeypox vaccine, says while the virus is still mainly found among men who have sex with men it’s now spreading outside that community.
“We’re seeing people who have not had sexual risk factors with the virus,” Latimer said.
The Philadelphia Health Department has been told it will receive an additional 6,020 doses coming in three deliveries. In total, the city says it’s expecting to be able to vaccinate 8,600 Philadelphians — far less than what’s needed.
Bass is worried the health department will repeat some of the mistakes made during the rollout of the COVID vaccine.
“The city made some serious missteps there. What did we learn before and what are we learning now? What are we doing now to ensure that that doesn’t happen again?” Bass said.MORE NEWS: 3 Women Shot In Brewerytown Were Targeted Due To Instagram Post: Philadelphia Police
Other big cities have declared public health emergencies for monkeypox to get more resources, but the Philadelphia Health Department says “although there is risk for further community spread, our current case totals are a fraction of those in these other large cities, especially New York City. The Health Department is monitoring the situation and will continue to evaluate community risk.”