Health officials vaccinate nearly 700 around Southern Decadence festivities

Published: Sep. 5, 2022 at 8:52 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - State health workers and volunteers on Monday (Sept. 5) wrapped up a five-day effort to curb a monkeypox outbreak, vaccinating nearly 700 people in New Orleans for the Southern Decadence festival and other holiday weekend events.

At the abandoned Municipal Auditorium across from the French Quarter at Armstrong Park, more than a dozen state health workers and volunteers worked through the Labor Day weekend in the effort.

“I haven’t had time to do much with the Medical Reserve Corps, but I try and help out when I can,” said volunteer Chiemi Riedel.

Louisiana received an extra allotment of 6,000 monkeypox vaccine doses from federal officials in advance of Southern Decadence, in an effort to slow the spread among its higher-risk population.

“We’re happy to offer the service, not just for Louisiana residents but for people who have come here to visit, who believe they’re at a higher risk for monkeypox,” said Theresa Sokol of the Louisiana Department of Health.

Sokol said vaccination events such as this have proven effective at flattening the numbers of new infections, based on data from Europe and America’s East Coast.

“This weekend, we gave out (nearly 700) monkeypox vaccines, and we also have COVID-19 vaccines available,” Sokol said.

Virtually everyone is advised to vaccinate against COVID-19, but monkeypox recommendations are more limited.

“It’s available now for anybody who thinks they’re at a higher risk - like gay or bisexual - or if they’re sexually active with more than one partner,” Sokol said.

Those who notice sores or a rash on their skin, or who are HIV-positive or homeless, also are recommended to be tested and vaccinated.

“Even if you get (vaccine) within two weeks after an exposure, it can really help reduce the severity of symptoms,” Sokol said.

The vaccination site closed Monday afternoon, but those still interested in getting the vaccine are advised to contact the city or state health departments.

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