Monkeypox: Clinic slammed for making people sign sexual history paperwork before getting vaccine

Clinic slammed for making people sign paperwork on sexual history before monkeypox vaccine

A clinic in Seattle, Washington has been criticised for reportedly making people disclose their sexual history before receiving the monkeypox vaccine.

A report for KUOW Public Radio in Seattle found that some vaccine recipients at the King County sexual health clinic are being asked to disclose details about their sex lives in order to “determine eligibility” for the vaccine.

A local LGBTQ+ advocate, however, said that this could “create another barrier” for those wanting the vaccine who would be uncomfortable disclosing these details.

Since the outbreak began, monkeypox has been detected mostly among gay and bisexual men, and other men who have sex with men. Many countries – including the UK and the US – have prioritised “high risk” communities including LGBTQ+ men, and those who work at sexual health clinics, for vaccination.

But Bekah Telew, co-executive director of Seattle’s LGBTQ+ Center, told KUOW that the “way those eligibility requirements are being rolled out might actually be creating problems”.

The report found that some people at the Seattle clinic are limiting the vaccine to “a subset of men or transgender people who have sex with men: such as those who’ve had more than 10 sexual partners in the past three months, those who’ve used meth in the past month” or “people who’ve had sexual or close contact with someone who tested positive for monkeypox”.

The clinic is reportedly asking patients to “sign paperwork verifying” their eligibility, which may mean disclosing elements of their sexual history.

Telew explained that rather than enforcing eligibility requirements, setting up pop-up vaccine clinics at places where LGBTQ+ men already gather would be a more effective approach to vaccination.

“Unfortunately, I think what we’re seeing is that folks who are more comfortable navigating systems – because of the many privileges that folks may hold – are going to get the vaccines regardless,” Telew added.

UK running out of vaccine

A UKHSA report showed that as of 10 August around 27,000 people in England had been vaccinated with a smallpox vaccine.

However, that programme will imminently grind to a halt, as the UK is on the verge of running out of doses, with more to be delivered in September.

Claire Dewsnap, president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, said: “It is disappointing we’re now going to have a gap between now and the next vaccine, but I think it is a reflection of the fact that people have gone out and got their vaccine.

“We are doing our very best to help and as soon as we get vaccines we’ll get you in.

“The weight is being borne by the [LGBTQ+] community and we don’t want people to feel that way, so we’re working really hard to make sure this happens.”

According to data from the CDC, there have been 39,434 monkeypox cases globally in the current outbreak as of Wednesday (17 August).