“There’s always a concern whenever you have large populations that are getting together,” said Jose Arballo, Public Information Officer for Riverside County Department of Public Health.
Ahead of pride month, Riverside County is ramping up efforts to get residents vaccinated against monkeypox, anticipating more vaccinations will lead to less cases of the virus.
On Thursday, the county held a vaccine clinic at the LGBTQ+ center in Palm Springs with more clinics scheduled for the weeks leading up to pride month.
“The numbers of vaccinations are going up. The actual vaccinations and the availability of it is going up. The vaccine clinics are going up,” said Arballo. “The hope is that through education and vaccination we’ll be able to protect a great number of those that are attending this event.”
But, what’s also going up is the number of cases.
“Over the last 2 weeks or so, we’ve seen daily numbers that have gone up 1 or 2 or 3,” said Arballo. “Particularly out in the Coachella Valley, we’ve had a higher population out there that has been impacted.”
Nearly 300 probable or confirmed cases of monkeypox have been reported in Riverside County with the Coachella Valley making up nearly half of those cases.
The city of Palm Springs has seen the most cases with 141 reported on Thursday.
Now – less one month away from Palm Springs pride, health officials are hopeful that vaccinations will limit the spread of monkeypox.
“Hopefully as we’re leading into Pride weeks, that the population that is going to be going there will be better educated and more protected through increased vaccination,” said Arballo.
Riverside county will be hosting vaccine clinics on-site during pride month events. And although vaccines are available for people who meet vaccine eligibility requirements, health officials say precautions shouldn’t stop with a shot in the arm.
“There are things that we can do individually to protect ourselves,” said Arballo. “If you’re sick, you want to stay home. If you’re not feeling well, if there’s an exposure you might have had, it would be disappointing but the idea is to protect yourself and others around you. That is an individual responsibility.”
To find out if you are eligible for a monkeypox vaccine or to find a vaccine clinic near you, visit https://rivcoph.org/mpx