Community is Key to Success of Vaccination Outreach Held at LGBTQ+ and Pride EventsPosted on by
Since August 2022, CDC has worked with communities to provide monkeypox vaccines to the public through innovative channels, including LGBTQ+ events. In planning for these events, CDC worked closely with state and local health departments to vaccinate everyone who wished to be vaccinated before and during each LGBTQ+ event, including impromptu vaccination clinics at bars and clubs catering to the LGBTQ+ community. These events provided an ideal opportunity to offer monkeypox vaccine to gay and bisexual men, a population disproportionately affected by monkeypox. With CDC’s support, state and local health departments provided monkeypox vaccines at events in cities across the country, including New Orleans, Atlanta, Charlotte, Oakland, Phoenix, Honolulu, and Boise. While each event was unique, they all had one thing in common—community organizations were critical partners essential for establishing trust among event attendees and encouraging them to get vaccinated.
Stories from these events offer insights into how public health and community organizations can work together to support vaccination efforts in the future.
Southern Decadence in New Orleans
Southern Decadence, described as “Gay Mardi Gras,” attracts more than 250,000 visitors to New Orleans each year. CDC responded to a request from the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) and New Orleans Health Department to support their vaccination efforts before and during the Southern Decadence festival because monkeypox cases were on the rise in the United States in June and July 2022. The goal of these efforts was to reach people most affected by monkeypox in Louisiana.
Given that Black Louisianans represent 59 percent of reported monkeypox cases identified in the state, it was critical to bring resources directly to the people who needed them. LDH and partners hosted 24 community vaccination events across the state, including 13 vaccine events in New Orleans, in the weeks leading up to the festival. Many of these events were held at venues frequented by Black gay, bisexual, and same-gender loving men. In addition, CDC worked with state, private, and community partners to set up the Southern Decadence Health Hub at a central venue within three blocks of the main festival area. The Health Hub offered monkeypox vaccines, clinical consultations, testing, and health education, along with COVID-19 bivalent vaccines and COVID-19 home test kits. In total, nearly 7,000 doses of monkeypox vaccine were administered at public and private health clinics and community vaccination events before and during the Southern Decadence festival.
Atlanta Black Pride
Black men represent 78 percent of reported monkeypox cases in Georgia. Atlanta Black Pride (ABP) weekend attracts over 125,000 people, and the 2022 event presented an ideal opportunity to put health equity into action by offering monkeypox vaccine to event attendees. At the invitation of the Georgia Department of Public Health (Georgia DPH), CDC supported the state’s response and prevention efforts by allocating 5,500 additional vaccine doses for ABP attendees.
Georgia DPH’s collaboration with ABP organizers, local health departments, community-based organizations, and night club and bar staff was critical to the success of this event because they directly engaged and encouraged attendees to get vaccinated. In total, more than 4,200 doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine were administered at events leading up to and during ABP weekend. Nearly half of vaccine recipients were Black, and eight percent were Hispanic or Latino. CDC and the Georgia DPH planned for additional vaccine events so people vaccinated for monkeypox before and during ABP were able to receive their second doses in the series. ￼
Charlotte Pride is the city’s largest street festival and parade, attracting more than 200,000 people each year. As of August 2022, almost all of North Carolina’s monkeypox cases were in gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, and 70 percent of reported cases were among Black men.
CDC worked with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the Mecklenburg County Health Department to make sure there would be enough supply to accommodate all festival attendees who wished to be vaccinated. Partnerships with community-based organizations, key influencers on social media, respected members of the clergy, and diverse night club promoters were especially helpful in reaching diverse populations. Ultimately, the Mecklenburg County Health Department vaccinated administered 540 doses at a series of festival events, clinics, and non-traditional settings, such as private parties, bars, and clubs.
These stories demonstrate how critical it is for public heath institutions to coordinate with the communities they want to help. They highlight the value of connections between health departments and community-based organizations. Relationships with non-traditional venues serving affected populations , such as night clubs, bars, and special event facilities, were also important. Public health officials should consider collaborating with organizations that cater to affected populations when planning future vaccine outreach.
How is your community engaging with community-based organizations to prevent monkeypox?