Missouri LGBTQ advocates call for more robust monkeypox response

There is a national and local shortage of JYNNEOS vaccines.

ST. LOUIS – PROMO, Missouri’s LGBTQ advocacy and equality organization, wants more done about the monkeypox outbreak.

Especially now that it has been declared a national public health emergency.

Shira Berkowitz is PROMO’s Senior Director of Public Policy and Advocacy.

“We are not acting urgently to crush this next virus in a way that we know we can get ahead of it,” they shared. “We need access to these vaccines, starting with those who are immunocompromised and marginalized populations of individuals is the way to stop the spread of this virus.”

However, there is a national and local shortage of JYNNEOS vaccines.

A Missouri Department of Health spokesperson shared the following information regarding the vaccines:

  • In Phases 1 and 2, Missouri ordered 2,413 doses, or 100% of its allocation
  • Missouri has several hundred doses available strategically across the state.
  • On July 28, they were informed of an additional allocation that the CDC divides into percentages to order, this first percentage that they can order from phase 3 is 40%, or 2,780 doses
  • They are in the process of ordering this allowance and expect it to ship as early as Monday
  • On August 15, they will be able to order an additional 30% of their Phase 3 allocation
  • The remaining 30% of the allocation will be withheld pending review of outbreak status and vaccine delivery data

Health departments in the St. Louis area have small amounts, and some have none.

Nathan Koffarnus is the Deputy Bureau Chief for the Office of Communicable Disease Control and Prevention.

Koffarnus says the United States already had 1.1 million doses in an emergency stockpile allocated to all states.

Not all states received the same amount of two-dose vaccine. This is because it was distributed based on population size, population at risk, and number of monkeypox cases.

“We are now waiting for manufacturing to create most of the doses and it may be until December before they come out,” he shares.

He adds that the department must follow the CDC and that CDC guidelines focus on vaccinating exposed individuals.

For now, he says there are plenty of testing and treatment options.

RELATED: Children aren’t eligible for the monkeypox vaccine unless they’ve been exposed to the virus

Population impacted

As of Friday afternoon, the city of St. Louis currently had 6 confirmed cases reported.

Across Missouri, 13 confirmed cases have been reported as of August 4.

Currently, men account for 99% of monkeypox cases.

“Of the men surveyed who provided a sexual history, 99% had had sexual contact with other men,” Koffarnus added.

Berkowitz says, “The reason that gay men or bisexual men, cisgender men are more susceptible to monkeypox than, per se, some other people is the immunosuppression that some carry because they are HIV positive.”

While a majority of monkeypox has impacted the LGBTQ community, Berkowitz says a lot of misinformation is also spreading.

“Monkeypox is not an LGBTQ virus, it is not something that is going to stick directly in the LGBT community. Although there is a surge of gay and bisexual men susceptible to monkeypox, it is not a LGBTQ virus or a gay male virus,” they add.

This virus can affect anyone.

Transmission can occur during sex or other intimate skin-to-skin activities, such as:

  • Oral, anal and vaginal sex
  • Hugs, kisses, hugs and massages
  • Coming into contact with bedding or other items infected with the virus during or after intimate activity

RELATED: Yes, monkeypox can be spread by trying on clothes or changing sheets

The St. Louis City Health Department has launched an anti-stigma messaging campaign on social media and will soon host a roundtable for LGBTQ members of the community.

Signs of monkeypox can include flu-like symptoms, but Koffarnus adds that 99% of cases involve some sort of rash.

You may experience all or only some of the symptoms which usually begin within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus. The illness usually lasts 2 to 4 weeks.

Symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms but milder.

Symptoms of monkeypox can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain and back pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • A rash that may look like pimples or blisters that appear on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, such as the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or throat. anus

If you are concerned about the virus, contact your local supplier.

For more information on the Missouri DHSS website, click here.

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