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‘We cannot keep doing this piecemeal’

The White House is making more vaccines available to combat monkeypox, but local community health organizations say it’s money that is desperately needed.

“We cannot keep doing this piecemeal,” Linda Estabrook told the state legislature’s Public Health Committee Wednesday during an informational session on monkeypox.

The White House said Thursday that it would make an additional 1.8 million doses of vaccine available beginning Monday. That would nearly triple the 1 million doses of Jynneos vaccine already distributed to states.

The White House is, however, dividing doses by five. Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said intradermal injection of Jynneos vaccine — through layers of skin — is as effective as subcutaneous injection — under the skin — and would require one-fifth the amount of vaccine.

That means every vial can contain as much as five doses of the two-dose vaccine. The 1.8 million doses the White House announced Thursday is based on the intradermal injection protocol.

Yale researcher Jordan Pecchia said on Twitter that monkeypox had been detected in New Haven’s wastewater, the first detection coming as early as July 15. There have been, as of Wednesday, 13,517 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the United States, of which 71 are in Connecticut, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The vast majority of those cases are among men with male sexual partners, and Estabrook, executive director and co founder of the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective, said that a “deluge” of funding for monkeypox mitigation is necessary.

While Estabrook was praiseworthy of the work the state Department of Public Health has undertaken to control the current monkeypox outbreak, she also said more funds would be helpful.

“So here we are. Monkeypox,” she said. “What do we need now, and I really mean ‘now’ as in ‘today?’ We need a deluge of money to drench this health emergency called ‘monkeypox.’”

Thus far in the outbreak, agencies like hers, she said, have been bearing the cost burden on their own.

“We can’t keep expecting the agencies and healthcare organizations that have stepped up to address this problem to keep doing what we’re doing without providing the resources needed to really make an impact,” she said. “I don’t know if the hospitals are getting paid to store and distribute vaccine. I don’t know if any vaccine administration agencies are getting paid. I know we’re not getting monkeypox-specific funding from the state at this time.”

They’ve directed existing funds toward the outbreak, increasing clinic visits and staff hours.

“Can you imagine what $1 million could do, what $2 million to do with $10 million could do?” she asked, though it was not rhetorical.

“More funding money can be used for advertising on dating apps like Grindr and Scruff. Money can be used to boost social media posts. It can buy full-page ads in print applications,” he said. “Funds can be used to contract with a design a communication firm to develop messaging products, including digital ads for display in our organizations and in gay bars.”

Then there’s the issue of security. The outbreak has for the most part affected the gay community, and Estabrook said they need to combat misinformation.

“We know that there’s anti gay rhetoric out there we know that there are lies out there regarding monkey pox transmission to kids,” she said. “These are dangerous circumstances, especially for LGBTQ organizations, and we really need the state of Connecticut to take the lead to interrupt those very dangerous messages out there.”




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