Monkeypox vaccine being prioritized in Chicago for those most at-risk, Dr. Arwady says

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ByLeah Hope via WLS logo
Friday, July 29, 2022
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Monkeypox vaccines are being prioritized in Chicago as the federal government announced 700,000 more doses are being released nationwide.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Outreach workers went door-to-door in Chicago Thursday as new efforts ramp up to stop the spread of monkeypox.

The U.S. now leads the world in confirmed cases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there are more than 4,600 cases in the country. In Illinois, there are 401 cases, 85% of which are in Chicago.

MONKEYPOX | Everything you need to know about symptoms, spread, treatment and vaccines

Information is part of the defense. Outreach workers for Howard Brown Health passed out flyers at businesses along Halsted Street on the city's North Side about how to prevent the spread of monkeypox after the World Health Organization offered a recommendation for gay men to reduce partners.

"Some more diplomatic messaging really would have been, again, just think about who you are having sex with," said Dr. Anu Hazra, co-medical director at Howard Brown Heath. "Have open and honest conversations with the people you are having sex with."

Another form of prevention is vaccination. Dozens stood in line in Lakeview for vaccination appointments at Howard Brown clinics Thursday.

"It's just like COVID," said Kyle Palmer, who was among those waiting. "The gay community has had this situation happen multiple times and I don't really see anything wrong with taking preventive measures."

Also among those waiting was Richard Elia, who said that after surviving the AIDS crisis in the 80s, he's eager to do what he can.

"AIDS didn't come into notice until it started jumping into the basic population and we need more vaccine," Elia said.

RELATED | Monkeypox cases near 300 in Chicago as city distributes 15K vaccine doses, CDPH says

On Thursday, the federal government announced 700,000 more monkeypox vaccinations are being released nationwide.

"The top line is we still don't have enough vaccine for everyone who might want one," Chicago Dept. of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. "The vaccine is being prioritized first and foremost for any contacts of anybody diagnosed with monkeypox and secondly for men who have sex with men who also have another risk factor."

Organizations like TPAN are not sure how many they will get, but plan to have two more vaccination clinics at its Edgewater office.

"It's fantastic that we are seeing such a response and that is directly as a result of the perseverance of agencies like ours, activists, our elected officials and just people really understanding the urgent need for this," TPAN CEO Kara Eastman said.

TPAN expects they will have to turn some people away as the demand is more than the current supply of monkeypox vaccine.

There have now been more known cases of Monkeypox diagnosed in the United States than in any other country worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control, which updated its current count to 3,846 Tuesday.