Chicago public health officials reported 173 monkeypox cases on Monday — up from 105 last week — and with vaccines scarce and hard to find, alarm is growing among doctors and those in the gay community that the city is not doing enough to address the spread.
Health officials are imploring the city to do more by increasing not only resources such as contact tracing, but also public awareness and education. Some in the gay community feel that the lack of public concern about the virus is because it’s mostly affecting men who have sex with other men, but health officials warn there is nothing to stop the virus from spreading to the entire population.
“It doesn’t care if you’re gay or not,” said Dr. Aniruddha Hazra, an infectious disease physician at LGBTQ-focused Howard Brown Health Center and the University of Chicago Medicine. “We have the tools to stop this from moving to other populations.”
Nine Chicagoans have been hospitalized because of the illness, Chicago Department of Public Health spokesperson Andrew Buchanan said Monday. The city has received over 5,400 doses of the vaccine and expects another 15,000 doses in coming days, he said. The federal government has ordered millions of doses.
He said the city’s vaccination effort is focused on people with the highest risk of exposure, which includes gay men, bisexual men and other men who have sex with men at venues, with multiple or anonymous partners, or for money. People who think they qualify for the vaccine should contact their health care provider, Buchanan said.