Get Vaccinated, Take a Shot: Bolt and Acadiana Cares Host Free Monkeypox Vaccine Event Wednesday | New

Acadiana Cares and Bolt Bar and Patio teamed up to host a free monkeypox vaccination clinic at the Jefferson Street site on Wednesday.

The walk-in vaccination event is scheduled for 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., but Acadiana Cares staff will distribute vaccine doses at 222 Jefferson St. while they are available and patients are lining up, a said Acadiana Cares CEO Claude Martin.

Vaccinations are free and no appointment is necessary. Clinicians will collect basic information, like name and address, so patients can be contacted to schedule their second dose, which is given 28 days after the first, he said.

The nonprofit expects 100 doses to be available Wednesday, Martin said.

As of Tuesday, a total of 181 monkeypox cases had been identified among state residents, including 10 in Acadiana, the Louisiana Department of Health said.

“It affects our community. We need to rally with people in our community to make sure they stay healthy,” Martin said.

Monkeypox is a virus from the same family as smallpox. It originates in wild animals, such as rodents and primates, and sometimes jumps to humans. The disease was first discovered in 1958, and the first human case was discovered in 1970. Historically, it has been rare in the United States.

Most patients with monkeypox experience symptoms such as fever, body aches, chills, and fatigue, while people with more severe cases may suffer from rashes and lesions on the body. It can be serious for children or those who are immunocompromised, have a history of eczema, or are pregnant.

Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease, but it is spread through close personal contact, including direct contact with causes of monkeypox, bodily fluids, respiratory secretions, and touching linens, clothing, or surfaces used by a person with monkeypox.

Currently, eligibility for the monkeypox vaccine is limited to a few key groups:

  • People exposed to a known case of monkeypox.
  • Gays, bisexuals, other men (cis or trans) who have sex with men OR transgender women and non-binary people designated male at birth who have sex with men AND
  • Have had intimate or sexual contact with multiple or anonymous partners in the last 14 days or
  • Having had intimate or sexual contact with other men in a social or sexual place in the last 14 days
  • Individuals (of any sex/gender identity) who have given or received money or other goods/services in exchange for sex in the past 14 days
  • Individuals (of any sex/gender identity) who have been determined to be at high risk of exposure to monkeypox by a healthcare professional or public health official.

Martin said anyone can get monkeypox, but so far in the United States the disease has been concentrated in men who have sex with men, so efforts outreach programs focus on the LGBTQ community.

“There is no stigma, no judgment or anything. It’s just a simple health issue that needs to be addressed,” Martin said.

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Bolt’s bartender, Kira Franssen, said the bar offers a “shot for a shot” deal, where patients who get their first dose of the vaccine can get a free shot at the bar.

“We always try to do what is best for our community. We’re the only LGBTQ bar in the area and I think people automatically come to us asking questions and trying to figure out what to do,” she said.

Acadiana Cares is a nonprofit organization that began in the 1980s to educate about HIV/AIDS and provide support services to those affected by the disease. Today, HIV/AIDS work remains central to the organization’s mission, but they also support those vulnerable due to health care inequities, substance abuse issues, poverty and homelessness, says their website.

Martin said the community vaccination campaign is timed for this weekend’s celebration of Southern Decadence, an annual New Orleans LGBTQ-focused festival over the Labor Day long weekend.

Data from the state health department shows that about 95% of the state’s cases are in men and about 60% of Louisiana’s total cases are in black people.

Martin said Acadiana Cares is particularly encouraging black LGBTQ+ men to get vaccinated because of the disproportionate levels of the virus in that population. The CEO said he hoped hosting a clinic in a central location like Bolt would make vaccination easier.

“Anything we can do to make it more convenient or easier to access that healthcare, the better for a community that has traditionally been marginalized from healthcare,” he said.

The Louisiana Department of Health also offers free monkeypox vaccinations through community health centers and partner organizations. People who meet vaccine eligibility requirements can call 211 or visit ldh.la.gov/phu to schedule an appointment.

Vaccine providers include: Acadia Parish Health Unit, Acadiana Cares, Evangeline Parish Health Unit, Iberia Parish Health Unit, Lafayette Parish Health Unit, Lafayette Foundation Clinic, Ochsner Lafayette General Infectious Disease Clinic, St. Landry Parish Health Unit, St. Martin Parish Health Health Unit and Vermilion Parish Health Unit.

“With the increase in cases of monkeypox in our state, we want those at risk to know that we have vaccines available at our Parish Health Units,” said Region 4 Medical Director Dr. Tina Stefanski, in a press release. “Our goal is to get as many people vaccinated as possible to help protect themselves and their loved ones. Just call to make an appointment. »

Martin said Acadiana Cares has already distributed more than 100 doses of monkeypox vaccine at their main clinic.

Writer Emily Woodruff contributed to this report.