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With monkeypox cases climbing, County Judge Lina Hidalgo wants more vaccines for city, county

Houston and Harris County are still waiting for a promised 17,000 doses, but they have no idea when they'll be delivered. And local leaders say it won't be enough.

HOUSTON — New monkeypox numbers are out and Texas now has 454 confirmed cases, according to the Department of State Health Services.

There are 161 cases in the Houston region, which includes five million people. One hundred eight of those are in Houston, according to the city health department.

The above video originally aired on July 27. 

As the case numbers climb, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo wants more vaccines than what's been promised.

She said they're still waiting on the federal government to send 17,000 doses allocated to Houston and Harris County, and they need three times that.

"The amount of vaccines allocated so far is not nearly enough to keep ahead of this virus, especially given the size of our population," Hidalgo said.

Tens of thousands of people are already eligible for the vaccines based on the CDC criteria. 

They recently expanded their guidance to include people living with HIV. That's nearly 30,000 people in Harris County.

Since two doses are needed, the 17,000 vaccines allocated wouldn't even cover that group, much less everyone else who is eligible. 

"I am hearing the anxiety, the fear, the concern from community members who want the vaccine and cannot get it," Hidalgo said.

The county’s top doctor, Dr. Ericka Brown, said those with HIV can get the vaccine if they meet the other criteria.

“The criteria being having had direct exposure to someone with monkeypox, engaging in sex acts with multiple partners or parties and bathhouses, et cetera, those who have had gonorrhea or syphilis in the last three months," Brown said. "HIV patients would not be on PeRP, but anyone who is on PrEP as well.” 

Hidalgo said Harris County only has vaccines for 250 more people.

She said the county will be ready, including extra staffing, when the other shipment arrives.

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