3 mass vaccination sites open in New York City in fight to stop monkeypox outbreak
NEW YORK -- New York City is approaching 500 confirmed monkeypox cases and is considered the epicenter of the United States' outbreak.
The health commissioner expects the number to grow significantly as testing ramps up.
Meanwhile, the city continues to finetune its vaccination program, opening three pop-up clinics Sunday at Aviation High School in Queens, Bushwick Education in Brooklyn and Bronx High School of Science.
"As soon as I know, then I can plan, right? It's extremely hard to plan in an environment of low supply and limited supply," health commissioner Ashwin Vasan said, trying to keep his frustration in check after touring the clinic in Bushwick.
As CBS2's Tony Aiello reports, local demand for the monkeypox vaccine far outstrips the supply from the federal government.
"We're optimistic that we should be receiving more in the coming days and weeks, which will allow sites like this to continue operating," Vasan said.
Monitors kept the long line outside Aviation High School in Queens moving, as the three pop-up clinics vaccinated 4,200 New Yorkers for the disease.
In Brooklyn, Joe Kadlec mistakenly thought he could get a shot without an appointment.
"From Manhattan. I got up at 4 o'clock this morning and came here and then was instructed, was told that it's only for people with appointments," he said.
Appointments which can be hard to come by. Several thousand were snapped up in a matter of minutes of the pop-up clinics being announced Friday.
Alexander Gottlieb traveled to the pop-up clinic in Bedford Park, the Bronx, from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
"So I took the train for an hour and a half to get here," he said.
"Worth it?" Aiello asked.
"Um, I guess. We don't really have a choice, right? Gotta try to stay safe," Gottlieb said.
- New York State Department of Health: Monkeypox vaccination information
- NYC Health: Monkeypox vaccine appointments
- NYC Health: Transmission, prevention, symptoms and more
- Northwell Health: Monkeypox vaccine scheduling portal
- Stony Brook Medicine: Monkeypox vaccine scheduling
In order to give at least partial protection to as many New Yorkers as possible, the city is not holding back any doses for second shots, normally injected 28 days after the first.
"My scientists looked at the data and said the first shot provides sufficient protection. Not as much as two shots, but significant, and so we said, let's use these all as first shots," Vasan said.
"From what I understand, that first dose gives you a decent amount of protection, and I'd rather have more people get that than wait around for the second dose, so yeah, no, I'm OK with that," said Chelsea resident Steve Rodriguez.
When the clinic in the Bronx closed its doors at 7 p.m., more than 1,000 people had been vaccinated.
Statistics from the city show 95 percent of people testing positive for monkeypox identify as men. The rest identify as trans, gender non-conforming or non-binary.
The health commissioner emphasizes the disease is very unpleasant but treatable. So far, the outbreak is not putting a strain on local hospitals.
The Health Department says more doses from the federal government are expected this week.
About 4,000 additional doses will be made available through referrals by community partner organizations that serve high-risk patients.
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