Public health workers have struggled to distribute limited supplies of monkeypox vaccine to at-risk populations. In the District, more than 16,500 eligible residents had registered for shots as of Tuesday, but public health officials estimate that anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 residents could be eligible.
Federal officials on Thursday declared monkeypox a public health emergency and put in motion plans to expedite vaccination. The United States has only enough doses on hand to fully vaccinate about one-third of those at highest risk, federal officials said.
The virus, which spreads through close personal contact, has overwhelmingly infected men who have sex with men, but public health officials emphasize that monkeypox can infect anyone.
In D.C., the two homeless people who tested positive for monkeypox are among 25 clients isolating in hotel rooms through a program established in response to the coronavirus, city officials said. The cases were first reported by NBC4.
Patrick Ashley, senior deputy director at the D.C. Department of Health, said clinicians will hold vaccination events for homeless people at shelters — including the district’s first shelter for LGBTQ+ adults, which opened last month in Ward 7.
Homeless people often struggle to manage health issues while moving from place to place or living on the street or in shelters, said Carolyn Summer, a nurse practitioner at Unity Health Care.
“They are the same health challenges faced by everyone else, but they are amplified,” she said.
When coronavirus vaccines became available, the city helped organize town halls at shelters with trusted staff or social workers — a model that Summer noted could work with monkeypox.
Monkeypox spreads through personal, often skin-to-skin contact, including contact with a rash, scabs or bodily fluids from a person with monkeypox and touching clothing, bedding or towels used by someone with monkeypox, the CDC says. A pregnant person can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta.
For weeks, D.C. officials have encouraged residents at risk for monkeypox to register in advance for vaccine appointments at preventmonkeypox.dc.gov, but access and privacy concerns have been an issue.
The new walk-up vaccination clinics are intended to serve D.C. residents who may not have the ability or the technology to register in advance online, and those who may not feel comfortable sharing personal details. City officials said personal information, including eligibility criteria, is kept confidential. As of Tuesday, the health department had administered more than 10,500 doses, and 1,300 additional appointments were scheduled.
Every Friday, while supplies last, D.C. Health will make some monkeypox vaccinations available on a first-come, first-served basis. Vaccination will be offered on Fridays from noon to 8 p.m., pending availability, and each city clinic will have 300 doses.
The walk-up clinics will be held Friday at three locations: 3640 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE in Ward 8; 7530 Georgia Ave. NW in Ward 4; and 1900 I St NW in Ward 2.
The vaccine is available for District residents who are 18 or older and are men who have sex with men and have had multiple or anonymous sexual partners in the past 14 days; transgender women or nonbinary people assigned male at birth who have sex with men; sex workers, or staff at bathhouses, saunas and sex clubs.
Proof of residency is required and can include an…
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