For Peter Madero, 67, who gets a monkeypox vaccination from the Chelsea Sexual Health Clinic in Manhattan on Friday was a matter of staying protected in the face of rising cases of the virus as it spreads across the country and the world.
But Madero admits he was “one of the lucky ones”, successfully getting a vaccine after a month of waiting.
“Prevention is better than cure,” Madero said. “The problem is it’s hard to get it, and you have to go online, and then they only have a limited number.”
In New York, monkeypox is officially an imminent threat to public health.
More than a quarter of all monkeypox cases in the United States – 1,341 – are from New York state, with the majority from New York. Additionally, the United States leads the world in confirmed cases — nearly 5,000 on Friday, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Many have clamored to have a limited number of vaccination appointments available. But getting vaccinated has proven to be a confusing process, even for those who are eligible, namely men who have sex with men and have multiple partners.
Daniel Enderle, 31, came to the clinic after hearing from a friend about the vaccination appointments available.
Enderle had hoped to get vaccinated by showing up for an appointment, but was turned away and referred by staff to the city’s health department’s online appointment portal.
Currently, anyone interested in getting vaccinated must go through the city’s health department website and make an appointment.
Although all appointments have been filled through July, those who are eligible and interested are encouraged to check the portal for availability that opens due to cancellations, the New York Times reported.
Close contacts of those with monkeypox will be contacted separately and given instructions on how to make an appointment for a vaccine.
Enderle admitted he hadn’t had the opportunity to research the process, but said he hoped public health workers would find other ways to make the vaccination process more accessible. , including creating walk-in appointments.
“Get there before it affects too many people,” Enderle said.
Michael Crawford, 57, said while getting a monkeypox vaccination appointment wasn’t as difficult for him, he’s heard of the unreliable appointment process that others are experiencing.
“My experience seems to be very simple,” said Crawford, who had help booking her appointment. “Everything I’ve seen in the media seems to be disastrous, so I don’t understand why there are two such drastically different experiences.”
Complications from the vaccine rollout also reflected the suppressed rollout of information about monkeypox as a disease.
For many, monkeypox has widely characterized as a sexually transmitted disease that primarily affects LGBTQ+ communities, although the disease can be spread by people in close or intimate contact with someone else.
Enderle said the characterization of monkeypox brought additional stigma.
“It’s subtle, kind of like, ‘Be careful when you hang out with gay people,'” he said.
Daniel Couri, who was successful in getting vaccinated, said the language used around monkeypox is similar to the descriptors used during the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. “I don’t want it to be labeled as a homosexual disease,” he said.
Many believe public health officials need to do more to increase awareness of the disease and the availability of vaccines, despite the continued focus on the coronavirus pandemic.
“Come together,” Crawford said.