Chicago clinics running out of monkeypox vaccines as cases rise


CHICAGO — Illinois is third in the nation for monkeypox cases with 200. Across Chicago, there are 178 confirmed cases of the virus with nine hospitalizations.

Nationwide, since the outbreak began in late May, no one has died. But the infection is painful, causing headaches, muscle aches and a rash that can look like blisters.

The Chicago Department of Public Health said almost all cases are among men who have sex with men.

Dr. Anu Hazra treats patients at Howard Brown Health’s 55th Street Clinic, serving the LGBTQ+ community.

“It’s really important to say this is not a gay disease, this is just currently spreading through sexual networks of this population, Dr. Hazra said.

He said the clinic is testing 25 people a day for monkeypox and there aren’t enough doses of the vaccine for everyone who wants one.

“We are inundated with calls on a daily basis,” he said. “The demand is humungous.”

In Edgewater – people waited four hours before Test Positive Aware Network’s monkeypox vaccine clinic Monday. TPAN, a nonprofit organization that serves people living with or vulnerable to HIV, had just 100 doses to distribute.

“I had never seen so many people lined up,” CEO Kara Eastman said. “I had somebody drive 50 miles who we had to turn away because we simply didn’t have enough, which was heartbreaking.”

CDPH is prioritizing the vaccine for those at highest risk of being exposed. So far, the department has received and distributed about 5,000 doses and it expects 1,500 more to arrive this week. Doctors said that’s still not enough to meet the need.

“We’re limited in who we can reach and so we need more people to helping to spread the word,” Kara Eastman said.

TPAN is having another vaccine clinic next Monday. So far, the federal government has sent about 300,000 doses to states. It’s ordered millions more from a European manufacturer, expecting 7 million by the middle of next year.

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