Monkeypox spreads to DC homeless


Monkeypox has spread to the homeless population in DC, with two confirmed cases, as the District launches weekly walk-up vaccination clinics in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

DC, which has more cases per capita than any state, as of Thursday reported 269 positive cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has recorded more than 6,600 infections nationwide since the first US case was identified mid-May.

Public health workers have struggled to distribute limited supplies of the vaccine to at-risk populations. In DC more than 16,500 residents had registered for eligible shots as of Tuesday. The virus, which spreads through close personal contact, has overwhelmingly infected men who have sex with men, but public health officials stress that monkeypox can infect anyone.

In DC, the two homeless people who tested positive for monkeypox are isolating in hotel rooms through a program established due to the coronavirus, city officials said. The cases were first reported by NBC4.

As of Wednesday, 25 people were isolating through the program, including the two monkeypox cases, according to a spokeswoman for the DC Department of Human Services.

DC shifts monkeypox vaccine policy to focus on first dose

Monkeypox spreads through personal, often skin-to-skin contact, including contact with rash, scabs, or body fluids from a person with monkeypox and touching clothing, bedding, or towels used by someone with monkeypox, the CDC says. A pregnant person can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta.

For weeks, DC officials have encouraged residents at risk for monkeypox to preregister for vaccine appointments at, but access and privacy concerns have been an issue.

The new walk-up vaccination clinics are intended to serve DC residents who may not have the ability or the technology to preregister online, and those who may not feel comfortable sharing personal details. City officials said personal information, including eligibility criteria, is kept confidential. As of Tuesday, DC Health had administered more than 10,500 doses and another 1,300 appointments were scheduled.

Every Friday, while supplies last, DC Health will make a limited number of monkeypox vaccinations available on a first come, first served basis. Vaccines will be available on Fridays from noon to 8 pm, pending availability, and each DC Monkeypox Vaccination Clinic will have 300 doses each Friday.

The first walk-up clinics will be held Friday at three locations; 3640 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE in Ward 8, 7530 Georgia Ave NW in Ward 4 and 1900 I St NW in Ward 2.

The vaccine is available for District residents who are 18 or older and are men who have sex with men and have had multiple or anonymous sexual partners in the past 14 days; transgender women or nonbinary people assigned male at birth who have sex with men; sex workers, or staff at bathhouses, saunas and sex clubs.

Proof residence is required and can include an identification card with a DC address, a utility bill or other mail showing your name and a DC address or a current DC lease or mortgage showing your name.

Public health officials throughout the region are closely monitoring monkeypox cases.

Among the 122 cases reported by the Virginia Department of Health as of Friday, 88 stemmed from Northern Virginia. Most cases occurred in men who are in their 20s and 30s; about a third occurred in White men and a third in Black men, according to state data updated daily.

The CDC is reporting 157 cases in Maryland. Montgomery County public health officials on Thursday opened an online preregistration survey for monkeypox vaccination appointments to prioritize limited supplies as they become available.

James Bridgers, the acting county health officer, said in a statement, “As with the early days of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, there is more demand for vaccination than there is supply.”

This story will be updated.

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