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Monkeypox vaccine a priority for Provincetown

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"The LGBT community will rapidly take advantage of that opportunity," says State Sen. Julian Cyr. "We're eager to protect ourselves."

"We're eager to protect ourselves," says Sen. Julian Cyr. "If you are a man who has sex with men, we encourage you to make an appointment."

Several hundred doses of the monkeypox virus vaccine are available in Provincetown as part of the federal government's push to expand vaccination for men at risk.

The CDC this week shipped 2,000 doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine to Massachusetts, which has confirmed 29 cases of the virus.

The supply is limited to those at high-risk of exposure, specifically gay and bisexual men who have had multiple sexual partners in the last two weeks, says State Sen. Julian Cyr, who represents the Cape and Islands.

"This is not something that is transmitted easily," Cyr tells CAI. "It's not as infectious in the way that COVID-19 is. But if you are a man who has sex with men, we really encourage you to make an appointment and to seek vaccination."

Symptoms include rashes on the face or inside the mouth.

"We are prioritizing in Provincetown, trying to make sure that we reach gay and bisexual hospitality workers — waiters, bartenders, performers — people who really make our seasonal economy hum here on the Outer Cape who meet the criteria," Cyr says.

The general public is not at-risk of the monkeypox virus, with early CDC data suggesting that gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men make up a high number of cases.

"I am a gay man, I live in this community," Cyr says. "The LGBT community will rapidly take advantage of that opportunity — we're eager to protect ourselves."

The Biden administration said last month that it would "continue to engage directly with leaders and stakeholders in the LGBTQI+ community to work together to prevent and combat stigma and bias, and promote testing and vaccine access and health equity."

An additional 1.6 million doses will become available within months, the White House statement said.

Vaccinations are by appointment only at the Provincetown Health Center through Outer Cape Health Services.

Patrick Flanary is a dad, journalist, and host of Morning Edition.