Clinic facilities

550 vaccinated against monkeypox at Wake County Clinic

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Monkeypox virus test results document with stethoscope

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Wake County Public Health staff vaccinated about 550 people against monkeypox at a walk-in clinic Saturday.

“We saw that we had a backlog of people calling on our line,” said Stacey Beard, Wake County’s director of external communications. “And we had to do something and try – like in COVID – to do a vaccination clinic. »

Staff cut the line outside the Wake County Public Health Center around 1:30 p.m. when all doses were announced, Beard said. By then, around 300 vaccines had been administered, with around 250 people still pending.

About 30 residents were turned away, said Dara Demi, Wake County communications director.

Prior to the clinic, vaccines were only available by appointment, The N&O previously reported.

The clinic opened at 10 a.m., but Beard said residents started lining up at 5:45 a.m.

“We plan to get even more [vaccines] of the state,” Beard said. “So the dosage is not the issue. It’s just getting the number of people who want them treated and with appointments.

The county has increased the number of nurses who can administer monkeypox vaccines, Beard told the N&O. Another clinic could take place in the coming weeks.

Friday there was 95 confirmed cases of monkeypox in North Carolina, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website.

Plan to get vaccinated

Monkeypox is a virus that manifests much like the flu. Its main symptoms include swollen lymph nodes as well as a rash with bumps that fill with fluid and scabs.

President Joseph R. Biden declared monkeypox a public health emergency on Thursday.

Men who have sex with men are disproportionately affected by the viral outbreak, according to public health organizations including NCDHHS, the N&O previously reported.

Grant Chambers, 31, heard about the clinic on social media after trying unsuccessfully to get an appointment for a vaccine.

“I’ve been calling and calling here for weeks,” said Chambers, who lives in Raleigh. “With the influx of calls, I couldn’t reach anyone. I saw that, and it sounded like a sure thing.

Vaccine infrastructure

By 2:30 p.m., most of those getting vaccinated had been waiting for at least three hours.

Vanessa Freeman, 25, waited in line for four hours but said it was more like two.

“There were a lot of really cool people in line,” said Freeman, who traveled from Willow Spring for his photo. “It was a good time, now that it’s over.”

Freeman said the vaccine was like “the lightest vaccine” she’s ever had.

“I want to go out and live my life,” she said, “and I don’t necessarily want to be scared of something happening having a good time.”

The clinic relied on immunization infrastructure created during the COVID-19 pandemic, Beard said.

“We had Chick-Fil-A operational mode down,” Beard said. “The cones, the security guards.”

For Jordan Lawrence, 27, the clinic rang true to his experience in getting COVID booster shots.

Both stood out for Lawrence, he said, as public health projects.

“I’m trying to protect myself and my family,” Lawrence said.

Fighting stigma

Leaving the clinic, attendees emphasized that continuing vaccination efforts should involve breaking the stigma surrounding monkeypox and the LGBT+ community.

Some community members, as well as the public health community, are concerned that messaging about the monkeypox vaccine could stigmatize gay, bisexual and transgender people, the N&O reported in July.

“It’s not just a queer thing,” said Hailey Brumley, 26, who lives in Holly Springs. “As soon as the vaccine is available to most of the population, I think it’s important for them to get it, and not think they’re safe just because they’re straight.”

And after

Wake County will open additional appointments for the monkeypox vaccine on Monday. To register, residents can dial the new call center at 919-212-9398.

Starting Monday, residents can also complete a survey at wakegov.com/monkeypox to see if they are eligible for a vaccine.

Those who attended Saturday’s clinic can receive a second dose across the county in 28 days.

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Ilana Arougheti is an underground reporting intern at The News & Observer. They are a rising senior at Northwestern University, where she was most recently city editor at the Daily Northwestern. You can reach Ilana at iarougheti@newsobserver.com.