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Saturday AIDS Walk events will offer monkeypox vaccines

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Delaware’s monkeypox cases remain low, but the Division of Public Health is continuing vaccination efforts.

AIDS Walk events in New Castle and Sussex counties Saturday will offer vaccine shots from 9 a.m. to noon.

Pre-registration for the walk at Brandywine State Park can be done by calling the monkeypox hotline. Pre-registration is not required for vaccination at the Rehoboth Beach event with Beebe Healthcare. DPH notes there may be a small $30 or less administration fee which is typically covered with insurance.

DPH Chief Physician Michael Colleta says they anticipate vaccinating around 600 people this weekend.

“Our goal is to make sure that those who are most vulnerable are the ones who we prioritize the vaccine for. There is not an unlimited supply of vaccines so we feel it is best practice to vaccinate those who are highest at risk," he said. "So we are working with our community partners in order to try to identify those at highest risk and make sure that we offer them vaccination.

Colleta says the vaccine is still not recommended for the entire population - only for high-risk groups such as those who are HIV positive or taking PReP, immunocompromised, or engaging in high-risk sexual activity.

“If the general population is not deemed to be high risk, I don’t think that we are going to expand, push for every single person to get vaccinated," Colleta said. "Not like COVID where you could just look at somebody funny and get COVID from them, but monkeypox is definitely different. If science supports vaccinating the general public then that is what we will work towards doing. But we follow the science and right now it doesn’t support doing that.”

He said that as of September 8, 1059 people statewide have received both doses of the monkeypox vaccine.

There are 35 total confirmed cases in Delaware – 23 in New Castle, 3 in Kent and 9 in Sussex.

Colleta says he can’t pinpoint why that number is comparatively low. There are many possibilities, such as vaccination efforts, under reporting of cases, or Delaware is less densely populated than surrounding states with major cities.

Newark Urgent Care is providing vaccines by appointment. Vaccine clinics are on Thursdays, and there is no cost for the vaccine.

Appointments at Beebe Healthcare can be made at beebehealthcare.org/online-scheduling. Walk-ins will not be accepted.

For DPH clinics, those interested should call the monkeypox hotline at 866-408-1899 for a screening evaluation. Walk-ins at DPH clinics will not be accepted.

See more on monkeypox cases and vaccine locations at the state's monkeypox website.

Rachel Sawicki is Delaware Public Media's New Castle County Reporter. They are non-binary and use they/them pronouns.