MENDOCINO Co., 9/9/22 — State Senator Mike McGuire, a North Coast Democrat, and Dr. Timothy Brewer, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, Los Angeles, answered questions about Covid-19 and monkeypox in a virtual town hall Thursday night. Coincidentally, the county health department confirmed its first case of monkeypox Friday.
Maya Stuart, a health department spokesperson, said the department administered treatment to the affected individual the day test results confirming the diagnosis were received.
About 130 questions were submitted ahead of the town hall, and the Youtube livestream had 230 viewers.
At the town hall, McGuire said monkeypox is in nearly every Northern California county.
Monkeypox is primarily spread through close contact with an infected person, Brewer said, and about 98% of people who tested positive developed lesions. There is no documentation of “casual contact spread” like passing somebody in a grocery store or sitting next to somebody on an airplane, he said.
Monkeypox vaccines are available for individuals who test positive, those considered high risk — people with weakened immune systems, children under 8 years old, people with a history of eczema or people who are pregnant or breastfeeding — and people who have close contact with someone who is infected with monkeypox. The spread is much more likely if someone who comes in close contact with an infected person has broken skin, Brewer said.
There is no evidence that a monkeypox infection increases the risk of a Covid-19 infection or vice versa, he added.
He urged everyone who is eligible to receive the new Covid booster shot, a vaccine that targets both the original strain of Covid-19 and the highly infectious Omicron variant that accounts for most of the cases in Mendocino County. The vaccine was authorized by the Federal Drug Administration on Sept. 1 and will be available in all Northern California counties by early next week, McGuire said.
People 12 years and older are eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech Omicron booster and people 18 years and older are eligible for the Moderna booster. McGuire said individuals who are eligible should contact their primary care providers to schedule an appointment for the new booster.
Anyone who is eligible for the new booster should receive it as soon as possible, Brewer said, even if they are not fully up to date on previous booster shots. As the winter months approach, he said it’s more important than ever to get vaccinated — it is the best defense of the virus that is “not going anywhere.”
“[There is] no evidence to suggest that this is going to fade out at any time, any more than influenza ever faded,” Brewer said during the town hall.
Brewer also urged people to get their flu shots, which are being made available this month. It is safe to get both the Covid-19 booster and the flu shot at the same time, but they should be administered in different arms, he said. It is also safe to get other vaccines alongside the Covid-19 booster, like the shingles vaccine.