NORFOLK, Va (WAVY) — The Virginia department of health is making the monkeypox vaccine available to more people.

The Virginia Department of Health now recommends the shots for anyone living with HIV or AIDS and anyone recently diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection, in addition to men who have sex with men.

“Significant chunk or proportion of Monkeypox cases have HIV or have been diagnosed with an STI so we’re taking that data and acting upon it,” said Dr. Laurie Forlano, Deputy Director of the VDH Office of Epidemiology.

So far, VDH has reported 478 monkeypox cases statewide with 118 of those in the Hampton Roads area.
More than 10,000 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, 1,370 of those in Hampton Roads.

Stacie Walls with the LGBT Life Center credits the Virginia Beach Health Department for bringing the vaccine to the WAVE and MJ’s in Norfolk where it reached more than 500 at high risk.

She is concerned, however, about the disparity in the numbers.

“If you look at the demographics of people infected with monkeypox, it is black and brown communities right,” Walls said.

Black men account for the highest percentage of cases while white men are the highest vaccinated.

Dr. Formlano told WAVY the health equity team at VDH is diving into the data and doing outreach. Walls told us the LGBT Center just received a grant for a digital and print education campaign.

“So we will be translating that into Spanish so that the Latino community can hear. We will also be providing Lyft health rides to the health department and to any pop up community clinic.”