Chicago monkeypox vaccine: TPAN gives out doses in Edgewater as 196 cases confirmed in Illinois

Michelle Gallardo Image
Tuesday, July 19, 2022
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What is monkeypox and how does it spread? TPAN Chicago distributed the vaccine as cases in Illinois climb. Symptoms include active lesions.

EDGEWATER, Ill. (WLS) -- The line at Edgewater's TPAN service center extended nearly to the end of the block Monday afternoon.

Dozens of people arrived hours before the 2:00 p.m. start time given for one few places in Chicago now offering a monkeypox vaccine. With only 100 doses available for Monday's clinic, many unfortunately, were turned away.

"I could not believe the line outside, which shows how urgent this is and how afraid people are and it makes me sick that we have so few doses of the vaccine to offer people," said TPAN CEO Kara Eastman.

According to the Illinois Department Public Health, there are as 196 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Illinois, the overwhelming majority of which are in Chicago.

Nearly 1,500 people have been diagnosed nationwide, with the number continuing to grow, primarily among gay men. But infectious disease experts stressed this is not a sexually transmitted disease.

"You do need prolonged personal contact with someone who has active lesions from the virus for you to be infected with this virus," said Dr. Jonathan Martin of Cook County Health. "While I would say it's not considered to be a sexually transmitted infection, one of the ways that people are getting it is through sex."

While the numbers remain low, they are growing rapidly. There is concern most cases are going undetected with not enough testing in place. It is part of the reason Steve Moran made coming to get vaccinated a priority.

"I had a smallpox vaccine when I was a kid, but I know somebody who was vaccinated also and he ended up getting it. He was home for two weeks. It was uncomfortable," Moran said. "He had a minor case of it and it was very unpleasant, but he got it from somebody else who was in the hospital with it, head to toe. Who wants to deal with that?"

What is clear is that demand for monkeypox vaccines far outweighs the current supply. The federal government has ordered 7 million doses of the vaccine, but officials said only 156,000 have been distributed nationally and most won't be available until late this year. It is why for now, most providers will only administer it to those believed to be at highest risk.