Monkeypox vaccine supply is limited, but this clinic is helping eligible residents
Connecticut rolled out monkeypox testing and vaccination centers this week as cases continued to rise in the state and nationwide. As of Tuesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 39 cases of monkeypox in Connecticut. The state Department of Public Health says shots are available for queer men and transgender adults over the age of 18 who have had multiple or anonymous sex partners within the last 14 days.
Connecticut Public visited Fair Haven Community Health Care (FHCHC) on Tuesday and heard from patients and providers who say they’ve been eagerly awaiting doses of the Jynneos vaccine.
“As soon as I saw that first clinic pop up, I just really wanted to get an appointment,” said Christopher Marsala, a Branford native who now lives in New London. “Because it’s critical to be part of the solution. Just knowing that it's affecting [...] men who were having sex with men. [...] And being able to have empowered agency with health care, that makes me feel really great.”
Efforts to distribute preventive doses of the vaccine are focused on queer men and transgender adults, health officials say, because transmission for this outbreak so far has been concentrated among this population. But all people are at risk of contracting the virus, through any physical contact with anyone who has monkeypox lesions on their skin or by coming into contact with items like bedsheets that symptomatic people have touched.
“There’s nothing that makes one community more likely to get it than any other,” said Jennifer Suski, medical director of the LGBTQ+ care program at FHCHC. “It just happens to be where we’ve seen the outbreak so far. But really, this is a disease that can affect anybody.”
Testing is available for anybody who believes they may have been exposed to the virus.
“You can get the vaccine within four days of a known exposure, and that can help prevent the virus as well,” Suski said.
Practitioners at the clinic said there has been significant demand for the vaccine.
“The response was tremendous, so we’ve had to get more vaccine to accommodate everybody,” said Wendy Cusick, program director of LGBTQ+ care at FHCHC. “We did get more vaccine promised [Tuesday], another 50 doses. But we could probably use that up this week. So hopefully there will be more coming to the state.”
Connecticut public health officials pleaded for the federal government to fast-track vaccine production earlier this week.
For more information about monkeypox, testing and vaccinations, visit the Connecticut Department of Health monkeypox webpage.
This post has been updated to reflect the number of days vaccines are available for eligible candidates with known exposures.