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San Francisco monkeypox patient says vaccine should have been widely available

Monkeypox sufferer says vaccine should have been widely available
Monkeypox sufferer says vaccine should have been widely available 03:12

SAN FRANCISCO -- A San Francisco man who is currently battling monkeypox is calling for better leadership by government and city officials when it comes to vaccine access. 

When David Watson started feeling sick, he thought he had COVID-19 again. 

"The symptoms are almost identical with the exception of my tongue got swollen. That was the only thing that was different," he told KPIX 5 via Zoom. 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON MONKEYPOX: California Department of Public Health | SF Department of Public Health | Santa Clara County Department of Public Health

Then he got his first lesion. Watson traced his exposure to giving a friend a hug and a kiss on the cheek. 

"He had a lesion on his face. He thought it was a pimple, just like this. If you take a look at this, you see that it looks like a pimple. He didn't realize it. A hug, a kiss that's all it took," Watson explained. 

ALSO READ: San Francisco declares public health emergency due to monkeypox

Now three ER visits and multiple opioid prescriptions later, he still in agony. 

"It is like…it's like sitting on shards of glass," he said, "It's the most painful thing that I've ever experienced in my 47 years on this planet and I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy."

David's husband is also sick with monkeypox now. He's frustrated about the lack of monkeypox vaccine access and the slow response from state, local and federal governments. 

"I have been asking for a vaccine since the middle of June. I have been asking for it," he said. "That is where the federal government has failed us is that they knew about monkeypox from mid-May."

Just Thursday, San Francisco declared a public health emergency in the city due to the growing number of monkeypox cases.  Residents can schedule a vaccination appointment at the SFDPH website.

David's particularly frustrated given the lessons that should've been learned by the government during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"It feels like AIDS all over again. The shaming," Watson said of his experience. "I did not get it through a means of sexual contact. That is the thing. Anyone can get this…from something as completely as innocent that looked like a pimple that was swollen."

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