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Milwaukee clinics push monkeypox awareness as they begin testing, prepare to administer vaccines

The vaccination effort looks quite different than the COVID-19 vaccination efforts, at least for now.
Spain Monkeypox
Posted at 3:50 PM, Aug 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-01 19:44:29-04

MILWAUKEE — Monkeypox testing is available in Milwaukee and at least one local clinic says staff is anticipating the arrival of the monkeypox vaccine within the next week or two.

However, officials say the testing and vaccination efforts look very different than what the public experienced with COVID-19, at least for right now.

"It changes day to day. It can be a little confusing," said Casey Otto, Business Manager at Holton Street Clinic.

Monkeypox is spreading nationwide. The CDC reports more than 5,000 cases nationwide. Still, doctors say the risk of catching the virus is low. As of July 28, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported 18 confirmed cases in Wisconsin and the Milwaukee Health Department reports two confirmed cases in the city.

Holton Street Clinic, a local Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) screening and testing clinic, says they're prepared to help if needed.

"It's not categorized by the CDC as an STI as of yet, but the transmission kind of works like an STI in terms of very close contact," said Otto.

Right now, monkeypox testing is available at Holton Street Clinic, but is limited to those who are being screened for STI's.

WATCH: Three things you should know about the monkeypox virus

3 things to know about the monkeypox virus

"If you come into the office for a screening and you have something that might look a little suspicious, we will definitely test for monkeypox then," she said.

Otherwise, Casey says to reach out to your primary care doctor if you have concerns.

The clinic is also one of several sites working with the Milwaukee Health Department and preparing to receive monkeypox vaccines.

"We will be making appointments, it will be appointment only here at the clinic, it will be about 12-to-20 per week," said Otto.

For now, the CDC is not recommending widespread vaccination, though that could change.

Instead, Otto said only people who have been diagnosed with monkeypox, or who have come in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed should be seeking vaccines.

"If you're seeing something that you don't normally see - some sort of bump or rash - it would be a good idea to get that checked out," said Otto.

The virus is spreading rather quickly in the community of men who have sex with men, but Otto said everyone should be aware right now.

"It's not just a certain community or anything like that. Anyone can get monkeypox," said Otto.

Without City of Festivals alive, and major events like Lollapalooza and Market Days happening to our south in Chicago - where there (are) more than 320 cases confirmed already - officials are stressing that awareness is key to preventing a major outbreak here in Wisconsin.

"Still feel free to go to those festivals, things like that, but maybe just be aware of who you're with, who you're getting close with," said Otto.

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