Louisiana health officials are warning that mpox may re-emerge in the summer months. To fight the spread, they’re giving away free vaccinations at Pride events in New Orleans this weekend.
Vaccinations will be offered at the New Orleans Pride Fest from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., at 941 Elysian Fields Ave. The Immunization Center is located at the beginning of the Pride Parade.
Men who have sex with men are at risk for mpox, formerly known as monkeypox, and are encouraged to get vaccinated, state epidemiologist Teresa Sokol said.
Other at-risk groups include transgender or non-binary people who have had a sexually transmitted infection in the last month or who have had more than one sexual partner in the past six months, Sokol said. People who engage in commercial or group sex are also at risk.
There have been eight cases of mpox in Louisiana since January, Sokol said, but those numbers raise concerns that more people could be jumping during summer events through close, skin-to-skin contact, which is how mpox spreads.
A rash is a hallmark of mpox, Sokol says, but it can also be accompanied by flu-like symptoms, including chills, fever, muscle aches and a sore throat.
Louisiana has given more than 15,000 mpox vaccinations so far, and 60% of people have completed two doses, Sokol said. If people got their first vaccine months ago, they can still get the second dose now and not have to start the series over, Sokol said.
Patients who received two doses did not require hospitalization, Sokol said, proof of the vaccine’s importance.
Only 19 percent of at-risk individuals in Louisiana received both doses, and 30 percent received two doses. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If people have symptoms of mpox, they should avoid close contact with others until they see their primary care physician, Sokol said. If they do not have a primary care provider, parish health departments will screen and evaluate.
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