Las Vegas groups glad for expanded Monkeypox vaccine eligibility, claim its overdue

SNHD has expanded its eligibility criteria for Monkeypox vaccines, and locals who fall under those new groups believe it’s long overdue.
Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 3:38 PM PDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - The Southern Nevada Health District has expanded its eligibility criteria for Monkeypox vaccines, and locals who fall under those new groups believe it’s long overdue.

According to the CDC, due to limited dose numbers, criteria is limited based on local vaccine availability and case trends. Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and now the Clark County Health District have expanded eligibility to sex workers of all genders. According to SNHD, people who identify as gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary or gender non-conforming who have HIV are also now urged to get the vaccine.

Other eligible persons include adults and minors who are exposed to a Monkeypox case, or those with multiple sexual partners of unknown status.

Though Monkeypox can be transmitted through sex, it is not a sexually-transmitted disease; health officials and doctors warn that infected persons can spread the virus through skin-to-skin contact in crowds, and even household spread through respiratory droplets and contact with an infected person’s linens and laundry.

“[Those with HIV] may have a more compromised immune system that may put them at a higher risk, if they come into contact with it. But ultimately, anyone can really get it. We really don’t want people to think that this is only those who identify in the Queer space, it’s really anyone who can come in contact, and have that skin to skin contact or intimate contact,” said Dr. Christina Madison, founder of the Public Health Pharmacist and associate professor of Roseman University of Health Sciences.

Those who are concerned about their risk should ultimately ask their doctor, based on their contact with strangers or numerous people, and not be afraid of judgment or stigma to seek testing or a vaccine.

“I think anyone who is engaging in sex with partners that may have an unknown status needs to know that their health is their biggest concern. So your sexual health and wellness is directly linked to your overall health and wellness. They definitely shouldn’t be concerned about seeking medical attention. It really is about making sure that you’re able to be healthy and well,” Dr. Madison said.

Many sex workers across the Las Vegas Valley and the country have been concerned about exposure. According to SNHD, case data among infected persons helped drive expanded vaccine availability.

“They’re acknowledging that we exist. We’re already meant to stay on top of our sexual health and seeing how Monkeypox is easily spread through sex, even though it is not an STD— it’s just one more thing that we have to look out for,” said Brian Bonds, an adult film actor. FOX5 spoke to Bonds about his Monkeypox infection traced to a party in San Diego. Bonds is also an HIV/AIDS health advocate, living with HIV in remission.

Many coworkers and other actors have already sought the vaccine for their protection, in addition to other required regular testing.

“We’re glad that they recognize that our work requires us to be on top of something like that. All of our work is intimacy. Intimacy is our work,” he said.

Other advocates have been working to help sex workers who lack resources to obtain access for a vaccine.

FOX5 reached out to Las Vegas Red Umbrella Collective, which provides supplies and resources to sex workers across all industries and advocates for sex worker rights. Advocates worry about the spread of the virus among those who are vulnerable, with the later vaccine eligibility, and released the below statement: