More cases, but less vaccine access: How monkeypox is disproportionately impacting people of color

From the federal level to the community level, experts have laid out strategies for getting vaccines to those being overlooked.

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Saturday, August 20, 2022
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From the federal level to the community level, experts have laid out their strategy for getting vaccines to those who are being overlooked.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The U.S. saw this with COVID-19 and now it's happening again with monkeypox: new data reveals people of color are being disproportionately impacted.

From the federal level to the community level, experts have laid out their strategy for getting vaccines to those who are being overlooked.

At St. John's Community Health, the staff managed to turn 300 precious vials of the Jynneos vaccine into 1,500 doses.

"We vaccinated 300 people. That was the very first day after the FDA-approved the intradermal injection," said St. John's Community Health CEO Jim Mangia.

The health group scheduled monkeypox vaccine clinics in Crenshaw, Compton College and throughout South Los Angeles.

"We are primarily targeting gay men of color and trans individuals of color," said Mangia.

National data reveals Black and Latinx members of the gay and queer community are disproportionately getting monkeypox. California is reporting 2,660 cases, 62 hospitalizations and no deaths.

Officials also broke down the numbers by race.

"Latinos have 38.8% of the cases, whites 38.4% of the cases, African Americans 11.9% and the Asian population is 6.5%," said California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Tomas Aragon.

Mangia said Latinos and Blacks are having a hard time getting access to vaccines.

Newly-appointed White House Monkeypox Response Coordinator Bob Fenton said working with community partners like St. John's Community Health is how they plan to reach the underserved.

"From an equity standpoint, we help all those in need, especially those who are socially vulnerable who may not have access," he said. "That's really a priority."

While there's been concern over the lower than expected numbers of vaccines, a big boost of 1.8 million doses is coming next week.

Fenton believes outreach and education will be the key to getting this outbreak under control.

"A lot of is the public education part, making people aware of what it looks like so they take advantage of resources that are being provided," Fenton said.

Meeting people where they are is an important part of St. John's mission.

This weekend, they will have pop-up vaccine sites planned at gay bars and Pride events.

"The gay community is really invested in protecting themselves and our community," Mangia said.