The Northwest section of Philadelphia is getting access to some of the 16,000 additional doses of the Monkeypox Vaccine. Beginning Monday, August 29, 2022, at-risk residents can make an appointment at Covenant House Inc.’s or another Federally Qualified Health Center in the city to get vaccinated for Monkeypox.
“We’re grateful to have these doses of the Monkeypox vaccine, so we can protect the most vulnerable members of our community and, by doing so, prevent the spread into less vulnerable communities, including our kids,” said Dr. Susan Stukes, Division Director Health Care delivery Services.
“I’m deeply grateful for these additional doses; it’s less than we were hoping for, but we greatly needed them in Philadelphia right now,” said Cheryl Bettigole, Philadelphia Health commissioner.
Black Philadelphians account for 55 percent of the 203 reported cases in Philadelphia as of August 18, 20222, despite a massive outreach effort by the city’s healthcare community.
Monkeypox cases in the US quadrupled last month from 3400 on July 26, 2022, to more than 15,433 cases as of August 22, 2022. The World Health Organization has declared Monkeypox a global health emergency.
“You hate to say something hasn’t worked, but these numbers aren’t where we want them,” said Bettigole.
Poor vaccination rates may stem from multiple issues such as fear within the Black LGBTQIA+ community of stigmatization, lack of access, and a deep skepticism of the health care system, making it challenging to persuade Black Philadelphians to vaccinate for COVID-19.
“The fact that they made Monkeypox look like a gay disease is generating more distrust toward that system because it’s ultimately not,” said Jazmyn Henderson, an activist with ACT UP. “People know it’s not a sexually transmitted disease, but that’s not how it’s presented in the media.”
Monkeypox isn’t a sexually transmitted disease because it isn’t spread through semen or sexual activity directly; contraceptive devices such as condoms won’t prevent transmission. It can be transmitted through any prolonged exposure to the painful rash or lesions it can cause, but among the more common ways this exposure happens is during sex.
Symptoms aren’t always obvious. It can look like a pimple, acne, or a mild skin rash. “In many people, the presentation is subtle and mimics a lot of other things,” says Lenore Asbel, medical specialist for STD control at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.
If you are in a high-risk group, those who have been exposed to the virus but aren’t presenting symptoms, men who have had sex with men and have had multiple or anonymous partners in the last 14 days, should get vaccinated. People with newly diagnosed STI during the previous three months, including gonorrhea, chlamydia, or early syphilis, should also get vaccinated.
If you want to get vaccinated and live in the NW section of Philadelphia, you can make an Appointment at Covenant House Health Services by calling the appointment desk at 215-844-1020. If you are outside CHI or have a Primary Care Physician at another clinic, you should contact your provider or call the Public Health department’s call center at 215-685-5488.
Disclosure: Cory Clark serves on the Board of Directors at Covenant House Inc, a nonprofit health clinic serving NW Philadelphia for over 60 years.