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Grassroots efforts, community partnerships aim to improve access to Monkeypox vaccine

Monkeypox Vaccine
Posted at 3:20 PM, Aug 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-23 19:02:56-04

CLEVELAND — After grassroots campaigns to improve access to monkeypox information, treatment and vaccinations, efforts to stop the spread of the virus are growing.

According to the CDC, there are more than 15,433 cases of monkeypox across the country. Ohio is reporting 133 cases, including 41 in the city of Cleveland.

"I got it to set an example for the community," said Rashawn Bradford, a medical assistant at Central Outreach Wellness Center. “I wanted the community to see a Black individual was getting the vaccine and is healthy and striving and hasn’t gotten monkeypox yet.”

The Central Outreach clinic in Cleveland Heights was among the first locations in Northeast Ohio to begin administering the monkeypox vaccine, which the CDC says is 85% effective in preventing the virus. It's given out more than 400 doses of the 2-shot vaccine and currently has 400 more available.

"People are calling everyday to get scheduled," said nurse practitioner Sabina Hossein, the clinical director at Central Outreach Cleveland. “They recognized the need for it, so they drove from different parts of Ohio to get here.”

Others, including local health departments, are also ramping up their vaccine distributions.

“As a health department, we've started vaccinating at a lot of community events and more are scheduled to come up. We've also started vaccinating at our site here at the health department in Parma. And then we're also collaborating with the Cleveland Department of Health and increasing vaccination efforts around the town,” said Dr. Prakash Ganesh, the medical director at the Cuyahoga County Board of Health.

Monkeypox symptoms can appear 5-21 days after exposure.

Early symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Exhaustion
  • Cough or sore throat

A rash and/or lesions may develop, often beginning on the face and spreading to other parts of the body including the hands, feet, eyes, mouth and/or genitals.

Symptoms may take 1-2 weeks to appear after infection and can last 2-4 weeks.

Skin lesions typically begin to develop all at once and may appear anywhere on the body. They can change from being flat to becoming bumps and then blisters before scabbing over and resolving.

"It's very painful. A lot of people are experiencing a lot of the fevers. A lot of the lesions are in uncomfortable places," explained Central Outreach Director of Program Innovation Deairius Houston about what patients are reporting.

No U.S. cases have been reported to be fatal.

The CDC says monkeypox is not as easily transmissible as other viruses, namely COVID-19. It can be passed through direct contact with infectious sores or body fluids or by touching objects, fabrics —such as towels and bedding — and surfaces used by someone with monkeypox.

Anyone can be infected by and spread monkeypox, but recent cases have predominantly affected men who have sex with other men.

The outbreak within the LGBTQ+ community has prompted grassroots efforts to stop the spread of the virus. The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland began fielding questions and connecting people to resources at the onset of the disease in Cleveland, and continues to combat the stigma associated with it.

“The less we stigmatize people who contract it or communities that are most at risk for it. And [instead] just deal with what we need to do in terms of testing, prevention with vaccines and in treatment for people who contracted it, the better off we are in the long run,” said board member Kenyon Farrow.

RELATED: LGBT activists criticize Ohio, federal response to monkeypox outbreak

Ohio is offering the monkeypox vaccine to individuals based on risk. It is currently administering to people in Tiers 1-3 on this list:

  • Tier 1: People at high risk of occupational exposure, such as lab personnel who are processing specimens; Individuals identified as close contacts or who have been directly exposed
  • Tier 2: People who have attended events or been to places where Monkeypox is known to have been transmitted
  • Tier 3: Those at high risk for Monkeypox or are likely to have been recently exposed; Individuals who have, or are likely to have, prolonged intimate contact which puts them at high risk for exposure
  • Tier 4: Nationally or locally identified groups at high risk for exposure based on epidemiological evidence

The LGBT Center is now partnering with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health (CCBH) and the City of Cleveland’s Public Health Department to offer pop-up vaccine clinics.

Walk-in availability for the vaccine will be available at the LGBT Center Wednesday, Aug. 24 from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. at its facility at 6705 Detroit Ave. in Cleveland.

CCBH offers vaccinations by appointment on Tuesdays and Fridays at 5550 Venture Drive in Parma.

You can register by clicking on this link.
The Central Wellness Outreach Center is offering walk-in availability at 2323 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights. Appointments are recommended to guarantee availability. You can schedule an appointment by calling 216-350-1000.

RELATED: Summit County Public Health creates monkeypox vaccine wait list

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