Acadiana Cares and Bolt Bar and Patio have partnered to host a free monkeypox vaccination clinic at the Jefferson Street location on Wednesday.
The walk-in vaccination event is scheduled from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., but Acadiana Cares staff will administer vaccine doses at 222 Jefferson St. while they are available and patients are in line, the CEO said. of Acadiana Cares, Claude Martin.
Vaccines are free and appointments are not required. Doctors will collect basic information, such as name and address, so patients can be contacted to schedule their second dose, which is given 28 days after the first, she said.
The nonprofit organization expects to have 100 doses available by Wednesday, Martin said.
As of Tuesday, 181 total cases of monkeypox had been identified in state residents, with 10 of those cases identified in Acadiana, said the Louisiana Department of Health.
“It is affecting our community. We need to meet with people in our community to make sure they stay healthy,” Martin said.
Monkeypox is a virus in the same family as smallpox.. It originates in wild animals, such as rodents and primates, and sometimes jumps onto people. The disease was first discovered in 1958 and the first human case was discovered in 1970. It has historically been rare in the United States.
Most monkeypox patients experience symptoms such as fever, body aches, chills, and fatigue, while people with more severe cases may develop a rash and body lesions. 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 the rash that causes monkeypox, body fluids, respiratory secretions, and contact with clothing. bedding, clothing, or surfaces used by someone with monkeypox.
Currently, eligibility for the monkeypox vaccine is limited to a few key groups:
- People with exposure to a known case of monkeypox.
- Gay, bisexual, other men (cis or trans) who have sex with men OR transgender women and non-binary people assigned male at birth who have sex with men AND
- You have had intimate or sexual contact with multiple or anonymous partners in the past 14 days or
- You have had intimate or sexual contact with other men in a social or sexual setting 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 last 14 days
- Individuals (of any sex/gender identity) who have been determined by a health care provider or public health official to be at high risk for exposure to monkeypox.
Martin said anyone can get monkeypox, but so far in the United States the disease has been concentrated among men who have sex with men, which is why outreach efforts focus on the LGBTQ community.
“There is no stigma, no judgment or anything. This is just a simple health issue that needs to be addressed,” Martin said.
Bolt bartender Kira Franssen said the bar is offering a “shot-for-shot” deal, where patients who get their first dose of the vaccine can get a free drink at the bar.
“We always try to do what is best for our community. We are the only LGBTQ bar in the area and I think people automatically come to us with questions and trying to figure out what they should do,” she said.
acadian cares is a non-profit organization that began in the 1980s to educate about HIV/AIDS and provide support services to those affected by the disease. Today, work on HIV/AIDS remains central to the organization’s mission, but they also support those made vulnerable by inequalities in health care, substance use problems, poverty, and lack of housing, says its website.
Martin said that the community the vaccination drive is scheduled for this weekend’s Southern Decline celebrationan annual New Orleans LGBTQ festival over Labor Day long weekend.
State health department data shows about 95% of the state’s cases have been among men, and about 60% of the total cases in Louisiana have been among Black people.
Martin said Acadiana Cares is especially encouraging black LGBTQ+ men to get vaccinated due to disproportionate levels of the virus in that population. The chief executive said he is hopeful that hosting a clinic in a central location like Bolt will make vaccination easier.
“Anything we can do to make it more convenient or easier to access that health care, the better for a community that has generally been marginalized from health care,” he said.
the The Louisiana Department of Health also offers free monkeypox vaccinations. through community health centers and partner organizations. People who meet the eligibility requirements for the vaccine can call 211 or visit ldh.la.gov/phu Schedule 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 Diseases Clinic , St. Landry Parish Health Unit, St. Martin Parish Health Unit and Vermillion Parish Health Unit.
“With the increase in monkeypox cases in our state, we want people who are at risk to know that we have vaccines available at our parish health units,” said Region 4 Medical Director Dr. Tina Stefanski, in a statement. “Our goal is to vaccinate as many people as possible to help protect themselves and their loved ones. All you have to do is call to make an appointment.”
Martin said Acadiana Cares has already dispensed more than 100 doses of monkeypox vaccine at its main clinic.
Staff writer Emily Woodruff contributed to this report.