As part of the Biden administration's ongoing effort to curb the spread of monkeypox (MPV), the Department of Health and Human Services has launched an outreach program to provide vaccines at large LGBTQ+ gatherings across the country.
During a pilot program, HHS will make additional vaccine allocations available to states and local health departments that host events primarily attended by men who have sex with men.
For the program, jurisdictions can use 50,000 doses reserved from the Strategic National Stockpile and their existing vaccine allocations and supplies, according to a White House announcement of the program. The amount available depends on the jurisdiction's size, nature, and ability to reach attendees at risk of contracting MPV.
"We're asking the requests to include a component of how they will promote education and awareness, as well as how they will address health equity in delivery of both messaging as well as vaccine," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a call with reporters Thursday.
As well as providing vaccine doses, CDC also assists and supports jurisdictions in preparing for significant events.
"This is important," Bob Fenton, the White House MPV response coordinator, said. "It's innovative -- the way that we will bolster local efforts to meet people where they are and mitigate the spread of monkeypox."
The agency can assist in developing vaccination and testing strategies, developing tools for collecting information from participants, and providing communication resources about vaccines, testing, and ways to decrease the risk of contracting the virus during and around these events.
To ensure that more doses are available at these events to more people, CDC is also working with local governments to adopt the new intradermal administration route of the Jynneos vaccine, officials wrote in the announcement.
The administration is working with North Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana health departments to prepare for large LGBTQ+ events in the coming weeks.
Walensky said that CDC would publish a toolkit for health departments to help them plan these large-scale events.
"These events are important opportunities for people to connect with their community and to enjoy themselves," the CDC director said. "And they're also a chance to provide public health messages and resources to otherwise hard-to-reach publications -- populations -- otherwise hard-to-reach populations."
The administration says North Carolina officials worked with the administration to develop a vaccine plan for the Charlotte Pride Festival & Parade this Saturday and Sunday.
HHS will offer up to 2,000 additional doses on top of the state's 18,000 allocated amounts to North Carolina.
Southern Decadence, which takes place September 1 - 5, will take place in New Orleans this year, but, according to local NBC affiliate WDSU, organizers announced on Wednesday that the Bourbon Street Extravaganza is canceled due to fears of MPV spread.
Atlanta hosts its annual Pride celebration, which is scheduled for October 7 - 16.
There have been 13,517 confirmed monkeypox cases in the U.S., according to the CDC.
For the latest information about monkeypox, visit the CDC's website here.