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Monkeypox Vaccination Offered at Atlanta Black Pride Events

Monkeypox Vaccination Offered at Atlanta Black Pride Events

NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                    

Sept. 2, 2022           

                                                                            

Monkeypox Vaccination Offered at Atlanta Black Pride Events

Atlanta – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and metro Atlanta health districts are offering monkeypox vaccinations at various locations and times during Atlanta Black Pride. A list of vaccination sites and hours of operation can be found on the DPH website. In most cases, walk-ins are welcome.

There have been more than 1,400 laboratory positive cases of monkeypox in Georgia. The majority of cases in the state and in this outbreak nationally are in men who have sex with men with sexual or close, skin-to-skin contact reported in the 21 days prior to their infection.

“Atlanta Black Pride is a time for celebration and reconnecting with friends, but we also want to ensure we are not missing the opportunity to provide important education about and vaccination for monkeypox,” said Alexander Millman, M.D., DPH chief medical officer. “DPH, along with our health districts and community partners, are working together to do everything we can to keep monkeypox from spreading so we can end this outbreak.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has made 5,500 additional doses of monkeypox vaccine available to Georgia, specifically for vaccination efforts leading up to and during Atlanta Black Pride.

Monkeypox vaccinations are available throughout Georgia, at all times not just during Atlanta Black Pride, to individuals meeting the criteria.

Persons of any gender identity or sexual orientation with any of the following:

  • Have had multiple or anonymous sex partners with men who have sex with men in the last 14 days
  • Have had skin-to-skin or intimate contact (e.g., kissing, hugging) with persons who have had a rash or are suspected of having monkeypox in the last 14 days.
  • Have had skin-to-skin or intimate contact (e.g., kissing, hugging) with persons at large venues or events in the past 14 days.
  • Have engaged in commercial and/or transactional sex in the past 14 days (e.g., sex in exchange for money, shelter, food, and other goods or needs)
  • Are HIV positive, or on HIV PrEP, or diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the last 90 days.

 

To make an appointment for monkeypox vaccination anywhere in the state, visit https://dph.georgia.gov/monkeypox.

 

If you think you may have monkeypox, seek testing as soon as possible. To avoid potential spread of monkeypox to others, stay isolated until your rash has healed, and a new layer of skin has formed.

There are things you can do to protect yourself from getting monkeypox:  

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
  • Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer

 

For more information about monkeypox, visit https://dph.georgia.gov/monkeypox or https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/index.html.

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LDH, community partners announce Monkeypox vaccine events in Baton Rouge

LDH, community partners announce Monkeypox vaccine events in Baton Rouge

The Louisiana Department of Health, the East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor’s Office and other community partners are hosting a series of monkeypox and COVID-19 vaccination events in Baton Rouge, starting Saturday, August 27.

 

As of August 26, Louisiana has identified 162 cases of monkeypox in Louisiana residents since the start of the 2022 U.S. Monkeypox Outbreak. In the Capital region alone, 13 cases have been identified to date.

 

“With the rising numbers of monkeypox cases in our state, our goal is to meet people who are at risk where they are so they can protect themselves and their loved ones,” said Region 2 Medical Director Dr. Paulette Riveria. “We are so thankful to our community partners for their collaboration and support. We couldn’t do it without them.”

 

“Similar to our response to COVID-19, we are working with our local partners to ensure equitable access to the necessary resources to keep residents safe and healthy. We know our community partners are vital to the success of addressing this public health emergency,” said Mayor-President Sharon Weston-Broome. “We appreciate our continued partnership with LDH to address the public health needs of our community.”

 

Health officials will administer the monkeypox and COVID-19 vaccines at the following events:   

 

George’s Place

860 St. Louis St.

Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022 

5 – 9 p.m.

 

Cedarcrest Bar by Provo

10467 Airline Highway

Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022

5 – 9 p.m.

 

Splash Nightclub 

2183 Highland Road

Friday, Sept. 2, 2022

9 – 11 p.m.

 

Those who are eligible for the vaccine include:

 

  • Gay, bisexual, other (cis or trans) men who have sex with men OR transgender women and nonbinary persons assigned male at birth who have sex with men AND
    • Have had intimate or sexual contact with multiple or anonymous partners in last 14 days or
    • Have had intimate or sexual contact with other men in a social or sexual venue in the last 14 days
  • Individuals (of any sex/gender identity) who have given or received money or other goods/services in exchange for sex in the last 14 days
  • Individuals (of any sex/gender identity) who have been determined to be at high risk for monkeypox exposure by a healthcare provider or public health official.

 

While not new, monkeypox is a potentially serious viral illness caused by a virus not commonly seen in the United States, that is spread through close physical contact. The disease can make you sick, including a possibly painful rash, which may look like bumps on your skin, blisters or ulcers. Some people have a flu-like illness before they develop a rash. 

 

According to CDC, early data suggest that gay, bisexual, same-gender-loving, and other men who have sex with men make up a high number of cases. However, anyone who has been in close, personal contact with someone who has monkeypox can be infected, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

  

Monkeypox Guidance

Testing for or monkeypox is now widely available. If you have symptoms and would like to be tested for monkeypox, contact your healthcare provider. Anyone without a provider or insurance can also be tested at their local parish health unit or community clinic: ldh.la.gov/phu

 

If your test for monkeypox is positive, stay isolated until your rash has healed,

all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed.

 

People interested in receiving the vaccine can visit the LDH monkeypox webpage for information, including a list of locations in Louisiana that have received vaccine. People can also call 211 to get their monkeypox questions answered. 
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Monkeypox vaccine shortage persists as major events loom in Atlanta – WABE

Monkeypox vaccine shortage persists as major events loom in Atlanta - WABE

“The appointments ran out within minutes of being posted online,” he said. 

“I’ve definitely heard from dozens of people with similar experiences,” he added.

Local county health departments have been periodically posting dates and times where a link goes live with new appointments, but their websites often crash as vaccine seekers flood the page and hundreds of slots get filled up within minutes. 

Meanwhile, Jones and others continue to look for the shots as officials on the local, state and federal levels play catchup to try and contain the spread of an often misunderstood disease. 

And the outbreak is — so far — disproportionately affecting Black gay and bisexual men in particular, as the world’s largest Black Pride event comes to Atlanta in a few weeks. 

Underordered vaccines and delayed declarations

The first monkeypox case of the current outbreak was confirmed in the United Kingdom on May 6. The Atlanta-based U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first monkeypox case in the U.S. — in Massachusetts — on May 17. The Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed the first monkeypox case of the 2022 outbreak in the state on June 6. 

But as of July 22, the state of Georgia had requested less than half of its Phase 1 and 2 allotments of nearly 14,000 JYNNEOS vaccine doses from the Strategic National Stockpile, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Every other state with the top 10 highest number of cases besides Georgia had requested more than 100% of their allotment by that point. 

By then, the mostly gay and bisexual men that the outbreak was affecting were already searching county health departments and nonprofits across metro Atlanta for the vaccine and coming up empty. 

Nancy Nydam, a spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Public Health, told WABE that they didn’t request the full allotment earlier because they wanted to stagger the shipments to local providers, who Nydam said have limited storage for the vaccine. GDPH had requested their full allotment from the national stockpile as of July 27, Nydam added. 

Compounding the problem was a shortage of available monkeypox vaccines on the federal level, an issue many public health experts have pinned on the Biden administration. The shortage was caused in part by the Department of Health and Human Services’ delay in asking that bulk stocks of vaccine it already owned be bottled for distribution, according to administration officials who spoke to the New York Times.

The Biden administration declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency on Aug. 4, which the head of the National Coalition of STD Directors called “long overdue.” The World Health Organization issued a similar declaration nearly two weeks earlier. The declaration unlocks additional funding and flexibility and raises awareness about the issue. 

“For nearly three months, STI clinics have been alone on the front lines of this outbreak, fighting a battle to keep their communities safe without the necessary resources to adequately treat their patients, prevent further infection or enough access vaccines,” NCSD Executive Director David Harvey said in a statement. “HHS’s declaration of a public health emergency is the right thing to do and we applaud their actions. It’s about time.” 


Daniel Driffin, co-founder of the HIV nonprofit THRIVE SS and a public health doctoral candidate at Georgia State University. (Photo courtesy Daniel Driffin)

Racial disparity worries event organizer, public health experts

Every Labor Day Weekend, tens of thousands of people from across the world descend on Atlanta for Atlanta Black Pride. Attendees can be found at a festival in Piedmont Park, workshops and parties throughout the city that weekend. 

But the disproportionate impact of the monkeypox outbreak on Black gay and bisexual men has Atlanta Black Pride organizer Tyai Green “extremely concerned.” There are 775 reported cases of monkeypox in Georgia as of Aug. 10, according to GDPH. Nearly all of those cases are gay and bisexual men, and over 80% are Black. 

“We are the largest Black Pride in the world, and that could get majorly out of hand for the Black LGBT community,” Green said of the outbreak. “If they don’t have the proper knowledge and take the proper precautions, there could be catastrophic damage.”

Green said that up until early August, there hadn’t been enough outreach from the CDC and the Georgia Department of Public Health to local Black gay and bisexual men about testing, treatment and a vaccine. But it’s picked up since then. 

“What we’ve found is information is key to prevention,” he said. “We don’t want a repeat of COVID.”

Daniel Driffin is the co-founder of the Atlanta-based HIV nonprofit THRIVE SS and a public health doctoral candidate at Georgia State University. He said the demographics of the monkeypox outbreak expose the racial inequities present in health care.

“It is a travesty and crime that more than 80% of the affected are Black,” he said. “With Black Gay Pride approaching Atlanta, local boards of health, [the] Department of Public Health, community organizations and Black Pride vendors should be convening right now to implement pop-up viral testing for monkeypox, COVID-19, HIV and hepatitis C. Similar efforts are needed for vaccination sites.”

“We can do better, we must do better,” he added.

While monkeypox is rarely fatal, Ralph Jones said that the outbreak, the most affected population and the government response bring up memories of the early days of a different infection. 

“For LGBTQ people, our community’s collective reaction to this moment has to be colored by the memory of an entire generation that was lost to government inactions in the face of the AIDS public health crisis that disproportionately affected gay and bisexual men,” he said. “So, this is certainly something that holds additional weight for us.”


Doses of monkeypox vaccine at the DeKalb County Board of Health North DeKalb Health Center in Chamblee during a mass vaccination clinic on Friday, August 5, 2022. (Dean Hesse/Decaturish)

More doses on the way to Georgia

The Georgia Department of Public Health has received and distributed the full Phase 1 and 2 allocations of nearly 14,000 doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine, according to Nydam. But it’s a two-dose vaccine (given four weeks apart), so that will only cover about 7,000 people. 

The Phase 3 allocation is about 34,000 doses and will be available over the next four to six weeks. But the Department of Health and Human Services allowed GDPH to order only up to 40% of that allocation — or about 13,600 doses — right away, according to Nydam. Those doses have been received and are being distributed to health departments and community-based organizations statewide. 

GDPH will be allowed to order about another 10,000 doses this week. They recommend that people most at risk of the disease contact their local health department for information about testing and vaccine availability.

The governors of New York, California and Illinois — which have three of the six highest numbers of monkeypox cases in the U.S. — declared states of emergency to fight the outbreak. 

A spokesperson for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp told WABE that the monkeypox outbreak is “a top concern” for the governor, but he won’t be declaring a state of emergency at this time.

“While we can’t speak to California or Illinois’ particular laws or needs, nor those of any other state that may or may not issue an emergency declaration of this kind, we can say that there is nothing a new state of emergency order would do for Georgians that isn’t already being done,” said Andrew Isenhour, Kemp’s deputy director of communications. 

Monkeypox 101

Sources: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Georgia Department of Public Health

What are the symptoms? A rash on or near the genitals, anus, hands, feet, chest, face or mouth; fever; chills; swollen lymph nodes; exhaustion; muscle aches and backache; headache; and/or respiratory symptoms.

How long do symptoms last? Symptoms usually start within three weeks of exposure and typically last two to four weeks.

How does it spread? Through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact including direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs or bodily fluids from a person with monkeypox; touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding or towels) and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox. Contact with respiratory secretions.

Is it a sexually transmitted infection? Monkeypox is not considered an STI, but sex is one of the ways that it can be spread.

Does it only affect certain people based on sexual orientation or race? No. Anyone can get monkeypox.

How can it be prevented? Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox. Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used. Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom. 

Where can I get a vaccine? There is a shortage of vaccines locally and nationwide, but check with your local county health department for availability. You do not have to be a resident of the county to get a vaccine there, but priority is currently being given to those most impacted by the outbreak so far. Community-based organizations such as Positive Impact Health Centers, A Vision 4 Hope and AID Atlanta are also good resources. 

What should I do if I think I have monkeypox? Stay home and call your medical provider or local health department for additional guidance. Testing for monkeypox can only be done if a person has a rash, bumps or sores. If you test positive, you should quarantine until the rash has fully healed, any scabs have fallen off and a fresh layer of skin has formed. This can take up to two to four weeks. 

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Concern growing about monkeypox vaccine availability before valley Pride events – KESQ

Concern growing about monkeypox vaccine availability before valley Pride events - KESQ

The push for more monkeypox vaccines continues in the Coachella Valley and Riverside County.

“It’s moving way, way, way too slow,” said Cathedral City resident David Wichman.

Vaccine access continues to be a key struggle in the fight against the rapidly spreading viral outbreak, Wichman said.

Riverside County reported one new monkeypox case Wednesday, bringing the total to 71 countywide. 66 of those cases were in the Coachella Valley.

With tight eligibility restrictions and low supply from the state and federal governments, county Public Health Director Dr. Kim Saruwatari took the opportunity to call for help Tuesday in a state Senate monkeypox committee hearing.

“We need to figure out a way to get more vaccine out into the community faster,” Saruwatari said.

As of Tuesday, Riverside County had received 5,384 vaccine doses, according to the California Dept. of Public Health, which are being distributed through Borrego Health, DAP Health, Eisenhower Health and Kaiser Permanente.

The county requested 1,500 more doses – but that request was not immediately approved. Instead, 750 doses were offered which are expected to arrive Wednesday or Thursday, a county spokesperson said.

Dr. Phyllis Ritchie, CEO and founder of Palm Spring STI clinic PS Test, has tried to get vaccine doses to distribute to her patients, a complicated process she said has not yet been successful.

“We have a horde of patients that are qualified to get the monkeypox vaccine,” Ritchie said. “They’re not part of Borrego, they’re not part of Eisenhower, they’re not part of DAP – and they are unable to access the vaccine. They just don’t even know who to call.”

For Wichman, concern is growing with less than two months until Pride celebrations kick off in Palm Springs.

“Tens of thousands of people come to Palm Springs for that event,” Wichman said. “There are numerous events and parties and people are going to be hooking up. And there’s lots of opportunity for monkeypox to spread.”

He is calling for open vaccination clinics to get many people vaccinated quickly.

“If we’re not vaccinating people by the middle of September, and that’s really cutting it close…within the next few weeks, we’re it’s going to be too late,” Wichman said.

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Monkeypox spreading locally at large LA County events, health officials say

Monkeypox spreading locally at large LA County events, health officials say

The number of confirmed monkeypox cases in Los Angeles County has jumped to 22, which health officials said has largely been spread among men who have sex with other men who have recently attended large events.

Most of the recent cases involve individuals who have not traveled out of the country or out of the state, as was the situation in most of the first identified cases in the US.

No hospitalizations or deaths have been reported, officials said.

“Anyone can get and spread monkeypox, but some of the recent cases identified have been among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men who attended large events where the exposure to monkeypox may have occurred,” the Los Angeles Department of Public Health said in a statement on Friday. “Public Health is working with event organizers to notify attendees of potential exposure.”

Monkeypox
Around 25% of the number of US cases of Monkeypox are in California.
Getty Images

The department said it would be JYNNEOS vaccine, targeting “individuals at higher risk of monkeypox,” which includes those who have had close contact with an infected person and those who were at an event where they may have had “skin-to-skin” contact with an infected person.

The department said it would be working to make the hard-to-come-by vaccine available for other high-risk groups as supplies increase.

Monkeypox is a viral infection that causes skin lesions and is endemic in certain parts of Africa. But the current outbreak has hit countries like the US and United Kingdom where the virus does not usually spread, sparking global concern.

The virus can cause blisters, pimples and rashes on the skin. Most who contract monkeypox report only mild illness that goes away within two-to-four weeks without treatment.

Monkeypox can spread through contact of bodily fluids, monkeypox sores or clothing with an infected person, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can also be contracted by breathing in respiratory droplets while speaking to someone.

The CDC said there have also been reports of transmission among family members and close contacts.

On Saturday, the US surpassed 200 confirmed cases nationwide, 51 of which are in California, according to the CDC’s latest data.

The White House announced earlier in the week that tests for the virus will be shipped to commercial laboratories to expand testing and speed up diagnoses.

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Superspreader events blamed for monkeypox surge – follow live

Superspreader events blamed for monkeypox surge - follow live

UK Government is cautious but not ‘concerned’ about Monkeypox outbreak

A British minister has insisted monkeypox is not a “repeat of Covid” as he attempted to quell fears.

Simon Clarke, the chief secretary to the Treasury, said the virus “certainly does not appear to be anywhere near the same platform of seriousness” as the Covid-19 pandemic.

He also mentioned the fact there was already a vaccine available that works for monkeypox as he spoke to media on Monday morning.

It comes as the UK braces for more cases to be announced on top of the current tally of 20.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation has confirmed 92 confirmed cases of monkeypox around the world – including Europe and the US – and another 28 suspected infections.

This tally does not include cases in Israel, Switzerland and Austria that were announced later.

Monkeypox – which belongs to the same virus family as smallpox but gives milder symptoms – is rarely identified outside of Africa.

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Superspreader events likely behind global surge in cases, expert says

An infectious diseases expert has said superspreader events are likely behind the global surge in monkeypox cases.

Sir Jeremy Farrar, the director of Wellcome, said there have been small outbreaks in the past with cases in the UK – but “something has changed” with this one.

“The virus may have changed, but I think that’s unlikely,” he told BBC Radio 4’sToday programme.

“More likely is, I think, that the niche that this virus now finds itself in has allowed for some superspreader events and those individuals involved in that have then travelled to other parts of the world and taken the infection with them.”

He said the fact the virus has “spread across borders so quickly” is different from what has happened before.

Additional reporting by PA

Zoe Tidman23 May 2022 10:47

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Opinion: The public health threat of a ‘toxic relationship’ with animals

“When will we learn?” Julia Baines from Peta UK asks.

“Now that monkeypox has been detected in Canada, Portugal, Spain, the UK, and the US, we should accept that our toxic relationship with animals is sleepwalking us into disaster.”

Read her take on the spread of monkeypox here:

Zoe Tidman23 May 2022 10:12

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What has been the trajectory in the England?

7 May: One case confirmed in England. Patients had recently travelled to Nigeria where they were believed to have picked the virus up.

14 May: Two people who live together in London confirmed as having monkeypox.

16 May: Four more cases confirmed: three in London and one in the North East.

18 May: Two more cases confirmed: one in London, the other in the South East.

20 May: Eleven more cases in England confirmed.

Another announcement on monkeypox cases expected later today. Stay tuned for more.

Zoe Tidman23 May 2022 09:43

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ICYMI: Scientists ‘stunned’ by global spread

Experts who have monitored previous outbreaks of monkeypox have said they are “stunned” by the recent spread of the virus in Europe and North America.

Zoe Tidman23 May 2022 09:24

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Watch: UK minister denies Covid comparison

Simon Clarke, the chief secretary to the Treasury, has said monkeypox is not a “repeat” of the Covid pandemic.

Watch his make the comments here:

UK Government is cautious but not ‘concerned’ about Monkeypox outbreak

Zoe Tidman23 May 2022 09:04

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UK tally expected to increase today

The UK is expected to announce an increase on its 20 confirmed cases of monkeypox later today.

It comes after a senior doctor warned new cases were being reported every day.

Furvah Shah reports on the situation in the UK:

Zoe Tidman23 May 2022 08:49

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UK minister says Monkeypox not ‘some repeat of Covid’

Monkeypox is not a “repeat of” Covid-19, a UK government minister has assured.

“As with any new disease, and obviously after the Covid pandemic doubly so, we continue to monitor this very closely,” Simon Clarke, the chief secretary to the Treasury, told Sky News.

“I would say I am cautious but I am certainly not concerned about our ability to handle the situation.

“There is a vaccine which is available and works for monkeypox, and all the evidence is that it is spread by physical contact.

Mr Clarke added: “What I would say is we are cautious but we are certainly not in a position where I would in anyway worry the public that this is some repeat of Covid, because it certainly does not appear to be anywhere near the same platform of seriousness.”

Zoe Tidman23 May 2022 08:06

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Joe Biden says US stockpiles are ‘enough’

Joe Biden has also said the smallpox vaccine works for monkeypox.

Asked whether the US has enough stockpiles of that vaccine to handle the monkeypox spread, the US president said: “I think we do have enough to deal with the likelihood of a problem.”

Joe Biden says the US stockpiles are ‘enough’ to deal with monkeypox threat

(AFP via Getty Images)

Zoe Tidman23 May 2022 08:00

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Joe Biden seeks to calm monkeypox concerns

The US president has sought to calm concerns about recent cases of monkeypox around the globe.

Joe Biden said at the weekend the virus was something “to be concerned about”.

He has now clarified: “I just don’t think it rises to the level of the kind of concern that existed with Covid-19.”

Zoe Tidman23 May 2022 07:46

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Monkeypox explained

Here is a quick reminder about what we know about monkeypox so far:

Zoe Tidman23 May 2022 07:33