Federal government provides monkeypox vaccine, other resources ahead of Southern Decadence festival

Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 7:24 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The federal government is helping Louisiana get ready for the upcoming Southern Decadence Festival. The event will be held over the Labor Day weekend and attracts thousands of LGBQI+ people.

The White House’s Monkeypox Response Team says Louisiana is receiving thousands of extra doses of the vaccine for the virus. But doctors say getting the first shot now will not provide protection for the festival. Maximum protection comes after the second dose which is administered weeks later.

“That first shot doesn’t mean that you’re protected for the event,” said Dr. Demetre Daskalakis of the CDC. He also serves as the Monkeypox Response Team deputy coordinator.

Gov. John Bel Edwards participated in a virtual press conference with the White House team. He said Louisiana welcomes federal help.

“This festival can attract up to 300,000 individuals, not just from Louisiana or not even from the South, but from around the country,” Edwards said. “We are expecting tens of thousands of people in New Orleans over this Labor Day weekend. So, being able to prepare for that and to get a head start on vaccinations, on the testing, on the communication -- all extremely important.”

The CDC says monkeypox can spread through close or skin-to-skin contact.

Robert Fenton is the coordinator of the White House Monkeypox Response team. He said vaccines are getting to those areas where needed most.

“We have enough supply going out into the field to be in a strong position to get two doses of vaccines into everyone in the at-risk community -- mainly gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men,” said Fenton.

The federal government also will have a pilot testing program in place for the festival and is helping Louisiana in other ways.

“You all have sent down multi-disciplinary teams to New Orleans to help us organize and to prepare, to better communicate and do outreach, and set up testing and vaccination sites in the community,” Edwards said. “They’re going to be convenient for the at-risk population.

“At our request, you sent down (6,000) additional doses, so that we could administer more vaccines both to residents and to visitors around Southern Decadence.”

The Biden administration says vaccines are being distributed with equity in mind.

“These events will reach a diverse segment of the LGBTQI+ community and helped address some of the equity gaps that we are seeing in vaccination among people of color,” said Daskalakis.

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