New York is finalizing ambulances and mobile monkeypox vaccine vans | Techy Kings

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Last Thursday night, Michael Doshier was on his way to a party at House of Yes, a graffiti-strewn dance club in Bushwick, when he got a text. “We’re not actually in yet,” his friend wrote. “They vaccinate against monkey pox, so we get it!”

With a vaccine van parked right outside the club, it was an easy decision for Mr Doshier, 31, a gay man who worried he might be at risk of contracting monkeypox but who hadn’t yet been vaccinated.

He checked in with a city health worker and boarded a white van that served as a mobile clinic.

“I think it’s a wonderful service,” he said later.

It was also the last of the night outside the club.

The city’s mobile monkeypox vaccination program, where vans were parked outside in community centers, nightclubs and sex parties since late summer, has lost funding and is ending. Mass vaccination sites established in the city this summer also closed on November 14.

With monkeypox cases now averaging three a day in the city and more than 70 a day at the end of July, both New York and state governments quietly ended their states of emergency, even as the federal government continued the state of emergency. declaration.

Monkeypox vaccines are being moved to outpatient and sexual health clinics run by the city’s hospital system and private providers. The city, which funded the response without federal aid, says it now plans to make monkeypox vaccinations part of routine health care, ensuring those at risk will still get both doses of the two-dose vaccine, even if it’s less convenient.

Dr. Ted Long, The senior vice president of New York City Health + Hospitals, a public hospital system in New York City, said he is working on a proposal to return the vans, which administered 3,330 doses at 72 different locations, to provide vaccines and other sexual health services. the future. The city has classified monkeypox as a sexually transmitted infection because it spreads primarily through sexual contact, particularly among men who have sex with men.

“Our goal with mobile devices is always to use them to break down every possible barrier that we can to make it as easy as possible for you to get vaccinated and as easy as possible to protect yourself,” he said.

City health workers who have been visiting the clubs for months expressed mixed emotions as they worked last weekend. Grateful recipients of the doses said they will miss helping and educating people about the disease. But they also said the number of people getting doses has dropped as the outbreak subsides.

11 people got vaccinated at the “Taip” house on Thursday evening. 14 people did on Sunday night at the Eagle NYC, a leather bar in Manhattan.

Among them was Karim Walker, 43, who lives in East New York, Brooklyn and works at a law firm in Lower Manhattan. In July, he had to travel to the Bronx to receive his first dose, and he had a one-word answer as to why he hadn’t yet received his second dose.

“Time,” he said.

“While we would have liked to have extended everything, this was an emergency operation and emergencies are ending,” said Jennifer Medina Matsuki, who normally heads HIV outreach at the health department, but as of June 18. Still, she said she was relieved “that this emergency didn’t turn into something bigger.”

When monkeypox was first diagnosed in New York in late May, it wasn’t clear if it would turn out that way. The federal government had developed a new smallpox vaccine that would work against monkeypox, but much of it was in a Danish factory and not ready for shipment. Research was hard to come by, and health care providers needed to be made aware of a disease that had never spread globally on such a scale.

As for the vaccine, there have been few studies showing how effective it is against monkeypox. The city’s initial rollout of the vaccine was marred by glitches, with disproportionate doses to white residents. But a combination of voluntary behavior change, vaccine doses, and infection-induced immunity has greatly slowed the number of cases both in New York and nationally.

The country is currently reporting 25 cases per day, up from 450 per day on August 7. peak Nevertheless, the White House did not declare victory.

“While we’re seeing a decline nationally, we’re still seeing some embers that are glowing in some areas,” said Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, the White House’s deputy monkeypox response coordinator. “We haven’t finished the work that we need to do to really achieve the goal of a broadcast-free country in the United States.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, black and Hispanic men remain at higher rates than white men, and some southern states, such as Texas, have seen fewer cases than New York. Monkeypox also causes serious illness in people living with HIV and has killed at least 11 people across the country. The concern is that the disease will continue to spread among the most vulnerable, with occasional flare-ups.

In New York, the news is generally good. The influx of patients seen at the sexual health clinic this summer has slowed, said Dr. Jason Zucker, an infectious disease specialist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

But racial disparities remain among those who have been vaccinated, with black men in particular lagging behind. Health care providers also still have to reach tens of thousands of people who need a second dose, which can only be administered 28 days after the first.

So far, the city has administered about 100,000 first and 50,000 second doses of the vaccine, enough to “tail” the outbreak in the city, said Peter Meacher, chief medical officer at the Callen Lorde Sexual Health Clinic.

Still, the city estimated in July that 150,000 New Yorkers are at high risk for the disease, leaving tens of thousands unvaccinated. New York, the early epicenter of the national outbreak, has reported about 3,800 cases of the virus since May. Nationally, about 29,000 cases have been reported since the outbreak began, and the disease continues to spread worldwide.

Commercial sex parties, which pose the greatest risk of monkeypox transmission, have been particularly targeted on mobile devices. Most gay bathhouses in New York City closed their doors during the AIDS epidemic, but over the years they have been replaced by sex parties held in quiet or secret locations.

As the city’s gay scene was hit hard by monkeypox this summer, major sex parties voluntarily closed their doors for six weeks to two months, said New York University microbiologist Joseph Osmundson, who helped liaise between the countries. and the city. When the parties reopened in early September, the vaccine vans in the city were kept away.

Partygoers flocked to the vans. At one party at Inferno, about 60 percent of attendees lined up to shoot on the first night, Dr. Long said. At the GBU, or Golden Boys University, party, 102 people received a dose of the vaccine when the party reopened on Sept. 9, said Garline Almonord, the operator of the vaccine van that night.

“It was exciting to see so many people around,” she said.

The number of infections did not increase when sex clubs reopened, Dr. Long said. As the weeks went by, traffic to the vans decreased as most participants said they had already been vaccinated. Until last weekend, only four people had received doses before 1 a.m. at GBU’s secret location in Brooklyn.

But for those people, the presence of the minibus was a relief. 38 years old Ronald Cortez came to shoot around 11:30 p.m. He said he took the first shot in August, but lost track of time and missed the second.

Hieronimo Torres, 26, who works the door and checks IDs, got his first dose, knowing it was the party’s last. “I wanted to do it,” he said.

Nate Schweber contributed to reporting.

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