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As monkeypox case numbers climb, some New Yorkers are frustrated with the city's vaccine rollout

CBS New York logo CBS New York 7/7/2022 Jenna DeAngelis

NEW YORK -- With new monkeypox infections nearly doubling in the past week in New York City, more vaccines have arrived.

The federal government approved a new allotment of 6,000 doses, but as CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis reports, some city residents are expressing frustration with the rollout.

"Just hearing anecdotally from friends how serious it's been for them when they've gotten it, it's made me very concerned," Manhattan resident Joshua Sohn said.

With monkeypox spreading, now at 119 cases citywide, Sohn has been endlessly trying to get a vaccine, keeping tabs on the Department of Health's Twitter account, which alerted of new doses and appointments Wednesday morning.

"I was able to get a slot and I quickly texted a lot of friends who I know were trying to get it, and within five minutes, there were no more appointments available," Sohn said.

He says confusion came when the health department tweeted due to a "glitch," those appointments were made available prematurely. It promised to honor those scheduled.

"We've already gone through a pandemic where people were refreshing pages to get vaccines. It's very disappointing to see that the Department of Health seems to have not learned any lessons," Sohn said.

RELATED STORY: Man recovering from monkeypox says virus is "way worse" than COVID


Video: New York City expanding access to monkeypox vaccine as virus spreads across U.S. (CBS News)

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While anyone can get monkeypox, city health officials say current cases are primarily spreading among social networks of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.

"Callen Lorde has actually had 14 confirmed cases at this point, and we're testing more and more people every day," said Dr. William DeWitt, with Callen Lorde Community Health Center.

DeWitt says most get better on their own but vaccination is key for those exposed.

"It doesn't work for all illnesses, but for monkeypox, it does work where you get the vaccine a few days after exposure, it can prevent the illness," he said.

"We're grateful to our federal partners for delivering the doses that we need," New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said.

With new doses, the city announced two temporary vaccine clinics will be open Thursday for appointments only at the Central Harlem Sexual Health Clinic and the Chelsea Sexual Health Clinic, but appointments quickly booked up, frustrating many.

"We need to do a lot more -- city, state and federal government -- to address this issue," New York City Councilmember Erik Bottcher said. "We need to get shots in people's arms right now."

The Department of Health says it will make more appointments available as it gets more doses from the federal government, expecting to do so early next week.

A third clinic at the Corona Sexual Health Clinic is expected to open later in July.

CLICK HERE for more information on the virus.

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