NORFOLK, Va. — The number of new monkeypox cases seems to be slowing down, at least here in Virginia, as more groups become eligible for the vaccine.
"The LGBT community is definitely responding and showing up to get vaccines," said Stacie Walls, CEO of the LGBT Life Center.
Starting this week, anyone living with HIV or AIDS and anyone who has been diagnosed with any sexually transmitted infection in the past three months can now get the monkeypox vaccine.
Walls said people living with HIV should have been included from the beginning.
"People with HIV have compromised immune systems, so if you put any other virus in the mix with HIV, it can complicate your health status."
Looking at the numbers in North Carolina, 274 out of the 510 people who are infected with the virus are living with HIV. Virginia has not released that same data.
These new eligible groups are in addition to people who know they’ve been exposed, anyone who has had an anonymous or multiple sexual partners in the past two weeks, sex workers, and staff at establishments where sexual activity occurs.
"There’s a shortage and so there’s eligibility guidelines, but as much as this is directly impacting the LGBT communities, it’s actually passed through sexual contact and intimate contact, so anyone could get it," Walls said.
So far in Virginia, over 9,000 people have gotten their first dose of the vaccine, and 5,000 of them have also gotten their second.
"We’ve seen a lot of our bars bring the monkeypox vaccine out to the bars and we’ve seen them like really pushing, like they did with the AIDS virus, really pushing for the vaccinations and for the people to be doing what they need to be doing," said Sunny Haynes.
She's gotten her vaccine since she works closely with the LGBTQ community.
Haynes urges anyone who is eligible to get the shot and is eager for eligibility to open for everyone.
"Why take that kind of a chance when you can just get a vaccine that’s just two 10 minutes twice and then you ain’t gotta worry about it?"
Remember, if you are eligible, you can get the vaccine at Military Circle Mall in Norfolk. It's offered on Mondays and Wednesdays, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. You must make an appointment.