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Connecticut LGBT health advocates ask state for more monkeypox funding

Terry Bohonnon of Branford, receives a Smallpox/monkeypox vaccine at Fair Haven Community Health Care in New Haven, Connecticut Aug 2, 2022. Bohonnon runs a community health care van in New Haven and said he came to the clinic because it’s one of the few places in the state where people can get vaccinated for monkeypox.
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Terry Bohonnon of Branford receives a smallpox/monkeypox vaccine at Fair Haven Community Health Care in New Haven, Connecticut, Aug. 2, 2022.

Connecticut has reported 69 total monkeypox cases, according to CDC data from Tuesday. While the state has asked the federal government to send more vaccine doses, LGBT health advocates point out that vaccines are not the only prevention method the state should focus on.

Some clinics offering monkeypox testing and vaccination say they have had difficulty with staffing.

“Our small agency has increased our clinic visits fourfold,” Linda Estabrook, executive director of the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective, said during an informational forum held by the state legislature’s public health committee. “We have increased our staffing by almost 40%. We’ve doubled the amount of clinic hours.”

Estabrook pointed out that with a low vaccine supply, behavioral changes are essential. The state Department of Public Health has held news conferences and has information on its website about how to protect against monkeypox. But Estabrook says this information is not reaching all of her patients.

“We have heard from people that say, ‘I’ll get the vaccine, and then I’m fine,’” Estabrook said. “The Jynneos vaccine requires two shots and takes a total of six weeks to be effective. You can’t get it today and be safe. Prevention is still the best way to avoid getting monkeypox.”

Estabrook called on the state to fund more widespread public information campaigns.

“More funding can be used for ads on dating apps, like Grindr or Scruff,” Estabrook said. “Money can be used to boost social media posts.”

The Department of Public Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment.