'This is not a queer virus': Monkeypox vaccine demand outweighing supply as cases climb

Posted at 10:19 PM, Aug 18, 2022

FERNDALE, Mich. (WXYZ) — The state of Michigan surpassed 100 monkeypox cases this week.

Metro Detroit health leaders say demand for the vaccine is far outweighing supply.

Concerns are being raised about whether it is safe to gather in large settings, especially when not everyone is protected.

"I think large event, promoters should be thinking about — just like with COVID — is the responsible thing to do making sure that people are vaccinated before going to large events," said David Garcia, the executive director for Affirmations, a LGBTQ resource center in Ferndale.

At the moment, the virus is spreading between men who have sex with other men. Garcia says that fact has been misconstrued in a way that is dangerous.

"This is a very painful virus and if it happens to you, you're going to take it a lot more seriously," Garcia said.

The monkeypox virus does not discriminate. It can spread from any one person to another.

Health experts say if you come in contact with an infected person's body fluid or open sores, you can get the virus.

That's why Garcia says no one should be singled out and everyone should be concerned.

"This is not a queer virus it just got a foothold in our community and therefore it is in our community," Garcia said. "And we have to respond to that, but we need to put prejudices and homophobia aside and recognize soon enough, it is going to be all of our problems."

The city of Detroit is now reporting 32 cases. This is partly why the annual Labor Day March down Michigan Avenue was called off.

Metro-Detroit Central Labor Council President Daryl Newman issued the following statement announcing the cancellation:

The Metro Detroit Central Labor Council regrets to announce the cancellation of our annual Labor Day March down Michigan Avenue. For years we have marched through the Motor City in honor of those who fought for our hard-earned rights in the workplace. Still, out of an abundance of caution, given the rise in COVID cases and monkeypox, we have decided to put everyone’s safety first and cancel this year’s event.

The march had been scheduled for Monday, Sept. 5.

The best protection against MPV continues to be vaccination.

As of Thursday, Oakland County has vaccinated roughly 1,500 people.

On Wednesday, they got 240 vials of the vaccine, which translates to 1,200 doses.

Calandra Green, an Oakland County health officer, says their state partners are hoping to get more.

"We are working very closely with them and they do understand the need," Green said. "And I believe they are pushing on their end with the federal government."

Earlier this week, the Department of Health and Human Services allocated and began distributing another 442,000 doses of vaccine to areas around country.

The announcement was the first allocation of vaccine following the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization, allowing for intradermal administration, which preserved supply. The intradermal method allows doctors to get five doses out of one vial.

Currently the monkeypox vaccine is only provided by Bavarian Nordic, a Denmark-based manufacturing company.

Green says come Monday, the Oakland County Health Division will start administering second doses.

While the group who qualifies for the vaccine remains relatively small, Green says they are looking to vaccinate people in congregant settings like long-term care facilities.

"We have not seen cases up to this point in those areas, but we do want to be prepared and have a plan," Green said.

Garcia says Affirmations will keep administering vaccines as long as they have the supply.

"We are going to do as many clinics as we possibly can to help get out ahead of this thing," Garcia said.

If you need information on the virus, cases and treatment, visit the state’s website.