NYC begins administering 6,000 monkeypox vaccine doses at pop-up clinics

Derick Waller Image
Thursday, July 7, 2022
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Derick Waller has more on the monkeypox vaccinations in Manhattan.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Thousands of doses of Monkeypox vaccines are now being administered in New York City, and appointments were immediately filled.

The city's contractor opened the vaccine website prematurely Wednesday and the appointments filled up, then they released more, and those appointments quickly booked up as well.

The pop-up site opened up inside the Central Harlem Sexual Health Clinic on Fifth Avenue and the city also reopened another location at their clinic in Chelsea.

That one was booked up as well.

The city says they just received a shipment of 6,000 doses, but they're all accounted for.

Last month, there were long lines at the pop-up clinic in Chelsea.

Even though anyone can get monkeypox, right now the vaccine is only available to men who have sex with other men over the age of 18.

That's because it is currently spreading among gay and bisexual social circles, causing mild illness including a painful and itchy rash and sores.

"We need people to understand that it is always best to avoid exposure," state Health Commissioenr Dr. Mary Bassett said.

It's not an STD, but that's currently how it's spreading, she said.

"The perceived wisdom is that it's from open legions and face to face contact," she said. "We may learn that there is asymptomatic spread in this in this outbreak. I think we also need to learn to highlight that this is a community that has learned how to protect itself."

The demand exists for the vaccine though, evidenced by how quickly appointments are being filled.

"All of my friends are in a group chat trying to figure out what's going on with it," Brooklyn resident Ben Thornton said. "I think it's been a little chaotic, everyone coming out of COVID is traumatized from the spread of a new disease, especially on that is affecting largely gay and bisexual men."

Health experts say this is not going to be another COVID.

"I understand that everyone is really tuned up about monkeypox because they are using their COVID antenna to look at it," New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said. "This is a non-fatal illness. It is usually self-limited. It is largely dermatologic, although it can have some systemic symptoms."

Dr. Vasan also addressed issues with the vaccine appointment website.

"Not only were there technical issues, but the demand for this vaccine is high and there isn't enough vaccine supply in the US," he said. "Right now, all appointments have been booked. We will make additional appointments available early next week."

The number of probable cases has increased from just 48 on June 27 to 119 as of Wednesday.

The city is requesting additional supply from the CDC to meet the high demand. They hope to have more available next week.

The Health Department has posted guidelines for people considering vaccination and any potential risks.

To make an appointment when they are available, visit the NYC.gov page.

Monkeypox is harder to contract than COVID, as it requires close contact or the sharing of bodily fluid.

The symptoms of the rare virus include fever and rash, muscle aches, and chills.

The World Health Organization is assessing whether the current monkeypox outbreaks in several countries presents a public health emergency of international concern.

Worldwide, monkeypox is deadly in between 3% to 6% of cases, though the death rate is less than 1% in areas with quality healthcare.

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