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Hundreds line up to get monkeypox vaccine in New York City

CBS New York logo CBS New York 6/24/2022 CBS New York

NEW YORK -- New York City health officials launched a new vaccination program Thursday to contain the spread of monkeypox as the number of cases in the city climbed to 30.

Patrick Kot was one of hundreds who waited in line up to two hours outside the Chelsea Sexual Health Clinic to get vaccinated against monkeypox.

"I'm feeling a lot better than I was, say, three hours ago," he told CBS2's Nick Caloway.

The shot in Kot's arm is providing a dose of relief.

The clinic was held for anyone who may have had a recent exposure to the virus, but capacity was quickly overwhelmed and city health officials had to stop accepting walk-ins.

Kot said he was happy to see a strong turnout.

"It's obviously rough and everyone's getting frustrated because there is a line, but that also means that I feel a lot safer going out, meeting new people, whatever it is," he said.

Ahead of a busy Pride weekend in the city, Carlos Maldonado said he's glad the gay community is taking this so seriously.


Video: New York City expanding access to monkeypox vaccine as virus spreads across U.S. (CBS News)

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"So it's one of the places that's going to be packed with people from all over the world," he said.

"I think that lots of gay men in New York have been keeping tabs on it, perhaps closer than our straight counterparts. I think that lots of us had heard stories, maybe a friend of a friend who had gotten monkeypox, and it felt, there was a sense that if we didn't get the vaccine now, especially after we're going to see so many friends this weekend at Pride, that we would eventually get monkeypox,"  another person waiting for the vaccine told CBS2. 

City health officials say while anyone can get monkeypox, current cases are primarily spreading among social networks of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.

"It's only spread by very close physical contact," said Dr. Peter Meacher, chief medical officer at the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center.

Meacher said it's important for us all to be vigilant not to stigmatize communities that may be disproportionately impacted by monkeypox.

"You know, we learned a lot with HIV about the pitfalls of stigmatizing groups based not on an identity but a behavior, and in this way, this is no different," Meacher said.

The city only received 1,000 monkeypox vaccine shots, and all appointments are full through Monday.

Health officials say they are working with the CDC to get more doses.

The CDC says you're most at risk within 14 days of exposure to someone with monkeypox. The GMHC, formerly Gay Men's Health Crisis, has more information on monkeypox on their website here: gmhc.org/monkeypox-update

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