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Winston-Salem LGBTQ center to hold weekly monkeypox vaccine clinics

North Star LGBTQ Community Center will be holding weekly monkeypox clinics every Tuesday.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — North Star LGBTQ Community Center in Winston-Salem has partnered with the Forsyth County Department of Public Health to host weekly monkeypox vaccine clinics. 

The organization held its first clinic with the health department on July 26. 

"It's important to do a reoccurring event, just given people's schedules," said Spencer Foster, a board member of North Star. "Not everyone is available on the same day every week so we just want to make sure people who weren’t able to make the first one, or if appointments fill up, people still have the opportunity to get a vaccine if they want one."

The clinics will be every Tuesday from 4-7 p.m. at North Star's location in Winston-Salem. Appointments are required and you must meet the eligibility criteria to get vaccinated. Vaccines are also available separately through the Forsyth County Department of Public Health. 

The Guilford County Health Department says it is expecting a vaccine shipment soon. 

"We can’t prevent everything but it’s just encouraging to see people get ahead of it so they are making sure they are protected before it does affect our community directly here in Winston," Foster said.

The World Health Organization declared the virus a global health emergency last week. There have been thousands of cases confirmed in the U.S. No one has died. More than 50 cases have been confirmed in North Carolina.

Foster said the North Star clinics will be held indefinitely until interest goes down or the health department expands eligibility. 

"We want to make sure that we offer as much as we can for the LGBTQ community, particularly through STI testing and other health resources so this is just a natural progression for us to be able to offer this to our community," Foster said. 

RELATED: When should you get tested for monkeypox?

Who can get vaccinated?

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, select individuals are now eligible to get the vaccine:

  • Anyone who had close contact in the past two weeks with someone who has been diagnosed with monkeypox.
  • Gay or bisexual men or transgender individuals who report any of the following in the last 90 days:
    • Having multiple sex partners or anonymous sex
    • Being diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection
    • Receiving medications to prevent HIV infection (PrEP)

Earlier this month, Forsyth, Durham, Mecklenburg, New Hanover, Pitt, Buncombe, and Wake counties received doses of the vaccine. 

The state is reviewing more counties for vaccines.

“Right now we are waiting on more information from the state regarding our overall monkeypox vaccine allotment and the timing of their shipment," said a spokesperson for the Guilford County Health Department. "In the meantime, we have been working with Forsyth County to ensure we have access to some of their doses if needed. We are encouraged that we have been added to the list of counties to receive an allotment and are currently working on the logistics of administration to eligible groups, which is advised at the state level.”

RELATED: Monkeypox case confirmed in Guilford County | Where can you get vaccinated?

What are the symptoms? 

The virus can cause flu-like symptoms but also rash or lesions that can spread throughout the body.

How does it spread? 

The CDC says monkeypox does not easily transmit among people, but anyone can get it and it can happen through direct skin-to-skin contact, having contact with an infectious rash, body fluids, or respiratory secretions.

Health officials said it can also pass between people through contaminated items like bed linens. 

Anyone can get monkeypox, it's not limited to one group of people.

RELATED: Yes, monkeypox can spread by trying on clothing or changing bed sheets

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