“We actually got a head start,” said Melissa Scott, one of the organizers. “Even before the festival, we started immunizing people here in Atlanta against monkeypox.”
The festival will also provide Covid-19 vaccines at the venue.
The monkeypox vaccine requires two doses, so it won’t immediately protect people, but Scott said the festival is a great opportunity to reach out to the large number of people disproportionately affected by the outbreak. said it was.
Trends in the worst-hit cities
Not all US cities keep or publish demographic data. However, among those with the highest number of monkeypox cases, people of color are often sick and underrepresented by vaccinees.
In Atlanta, as of mid-August, 71% of monkeypox cases were identified as black, 12% white, and 7% Hispanic; inoculated Hispanic. .
However, while Hispanics account for 21% of Houston’s cases, Hispanics make up 45% of the city’s population and 32% of those vaccinated. Caucasians make up 24% of the population, 17% of cases, and 39% of those vaccinated against monkeypox.
Whites are the most vaccinated against monkeypox in Los Angeles. They received 41% of first doses and accounted for 29% of cases. Whites make up a quarter of the county’s population.
Black people are overrated in the case. They make up 9% of the county’s population but account for 11% of the cases. Only 9% of his first vaccinations identify as black.
“I think as a public health community, we are very good at making the same mistakes over and over again.” For example, a system that requires people to wait in line for hours for a vaccine will not work for people with hourly jobs.”
“Equity is a key pillar of our response and we recognize that additional resources need to be put on the ground to ensure that the communities most affected by the outbreak are reached. .”
The administration plans to send thousands of doses of the vaccine to organizations that work with black and brown communities. The initiative also works with state and local governments to bring vaccination clinics to major LGBTQ events that attract hundreds of thousands of people, including Atlanta Black Pride, Oakland Pride in California, and Southern Decadence in New Orleans. Install. Enough vials will be sent at each event to vaccinate up to 5,000 people.
Federal health officials say they also Work with local leaders to identify small gatherings of pop-up vaccine clinics, such as home and ballroom events that are popular with young people. Secured.
“It’s also important to respect any strategies Charlotte may have had regarding how to get the word out,” said Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, the White House’s assistant monkeypox response coordinator. It’s not a clinic, I actually go to Pride and get vaccinated, and I think that’s especially noteworthy.”
Outreach efforts bear fruit
Outreach appears to be taking place in Fulton County, Georgia, which includes Atlanta and several large suburbs.
According to the last census, blacks account for 79% of monkeypox cases, but only 42.5% of the population. Since the outbreak began, county health boards have initiated independent efforts to engage directly with organizations that work with black and brown communities. and extended hours in clinics so people don’t have to miss work to get vaccinated.
As a result, nearly 70 percent of the monkeypox vaccines administered by the county went to people of color, the commission said. By comparison, according to the Biden administration, only 10% of those infected nationwide are black, 22% are Hispanic or Latino, and 44% identify as white.
“Communities of color have been hit particularly hard by monkeypox,” said Dr. Lynn Paxton, District Health Commissioner for Fulton County. “Therefore, efforts to target health equity are particularly important for health commissions.”
The Biden administration said equity is a key priority in its monkeypox strategy.
“Our vaccine strategy is to meet people seeking service, care or community, especially in communities of color,” Daskalakis said.
The extra effort has been fueled by several obstacles to access to treatments, vaccines and culturally sensitive educational materials, public health experts say.
Sean Cahill, director of health policy research at the Fenway Institute in Boston, a health organization that works with sexual and gender minorities, is frustrated by these unnecessary barriers.
For example, the monkeypox drug Tpoxx is still considered experimental, so patients and doctors must complete a form required by the CDC to obtain it. For months, not a single form was translated into a language other than English. CDC made the Spanish language form available on its website in the second week of August.
“It can be very difficult for patients who speak Spanish or Chinese, or who don’t speak much English, to fill out these forms,” says Cahill. It’s even more difficult for people who don’t have access to a computer or printer.
“There are some logistical issues that have been constantly challenged to help our patients, but they don’t have to be,” he added.
Getting a vaccine appointment, especially early in the outbreak in the United States, where vaccine supplies were far scarce, essentially required following your local health department on Twitter to find out when it was available. Reservations often fill up within minutes.
“Your health should not be dictated by Twitter or Instagram,” Driffin said.
He added that it was especially difficult for some people to get appointments for tests and treatment.
“Especially here in Georgia, many people, especially men, blacks and browns, may not be able to get regular medical care. So where should they go?”
echoes of other outbreaks
Of course, this is not the first health outbreak to disproportionately affect black and brown communities.
Blacks have higher rates of new HIV diagnoses and cases compared to other races and ethnicities. Hispanics and Latinos are also disproportionately affected by HIV.
These same communities are overrepresented in the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the CDC, the number of cases and deaths among people of color is disproportionate compared to whites when age differences are taken into account.
The CDC regularly says more needs to be done to help these communities, and the trend among public health officials to help is a good thing, Doubeni said.
“But usually they don’t say, ‘Oh, we have a problem. Let’s see how we can work with the community to see what works for them.’ , you don’t do this in the first place,” says Doubeni. He said.
More than once, Doubeni has seen government public health officials spend months producing educational materials in English. Only after those materials are published will they start working on the Spanish version.
“I think it’s all with good intentions, but unfortunately we don’t always start with a purpose in mind.
He tells people that due to systemic racism and social and economic reasons, people in communities of color may have to be persistent to get the treatment they need.
“Don’t say no,” Dubeni said. “People should not be ashamed of having to seek treatment for monkeypox. It has nothing to do with them as individuals. You can, and it’s your right to get the answer.
Atlanta Black Pride organizer Scott said he was pleased with the targeted outreach from the local public health department. while making it fun for everyone.
“We’re trying to make sure it reaches the people who need it most,” she said.
CNN’s Deidre McPhillips contributed to this report.