Monkepox Sample. CDC.

In an effort to expand access to monkeypox vaccine to all eligible Rhode Islanders, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) today announced that is partnering with community organizations and businesses to offer vaccination clinics for hospitality workers and others who may not have been able to attend previously scheduled clinics.

As has been the case at the previous 33 monkeypox virus (MPV) vaccination clinics organized by RIDOH, vaccine will be free of charge. People do not need health insurance to be vaccinated.

“While the risk of monkeypox for most Rhode Islanders continues to be low, we are doing everything we can to ensure that people who are eligible to be vaccinated can access vaccine,” said Governor Dan McKee. “We have worked diligently to secure a significant amount of vaccine from our federal partners and will continue to monitor demand and bring more vaccine into Rhode Island if needed.”

“Access to vaccine for all eligible Rhode Islanders is a priority in our response to the monkeypox outbreak,” said Interim Director of Health Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH. “Unlike several months ago, we now have an ample supply of vaccine. People who are eligible are urged to get vaccinated. Vaccine is one of our most effective tools of prevention.”

New clinics scheduled

These clinics in downtown Providence are being held on weekdays to best accommodate the schedules of many people, including hospitality industry staff (such as restaurant, bar, and hotel workers), who often work on weekends. However, these clinics are open to anyone who is eligible to be vaccinated (see eligibility criteria below). These clinics are being promoted in partnership with the Rhode Island Hospitality Association.

  • The Beneficent Church, 300 Weybosset Street, Providence

Tuesday, Oct. 18 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Click here to register

  • The Dark Lady, 19 Snow Street, Providence

Monday, Oct. 24 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Click here to register

Beyond these two new clinics, RIDOH has organized additional MPV vaccination clinics.  

  • Johnson & Wales University, 305 Shipyard Street, Providence

Tuesday, Oct. 25 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.   
Click here to register     

  • Rhodes on the Pawtuxet, 60 Rhodes Place, Cranston

Thursday, Oct. 27 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Click here to register

  • CCRI Warwick, 400 East Ave., Warwick

Saturday, Oct. 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Click here to register

  • AAA Offices, 70 Royal Little Drive, Providence
    Saturday, October 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Click here to register

Additional vaccination opportunities

There are currently several other vaccination clinics scheduled through the month of November where people can receive first or second doses. A full list of clinics scheduled for the next 30 days is available online at https://bit.ly/MPVvaccine. In addition to these clinics, some healthcare facilities in Rhode Island are vaccinating patients against MPV. Those health centers are Open Door Health, the Miriam Hospital Infectious Disease Clinic, Tri-County Health Center, and Thundermist Health Center. RIDOH is coordinating with some Rhode Island-based independent pharmacies to make the vaccine available in their locations in the coming weeks.

In addition to those health centers, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) and RIDOH are grateful for the partnership of many organizations, colleges and universities, and businesses statewide in supporting MPV vaccination clinics, including: Rhode Island College, Providence Public Schools, Providence Emergency Management Agency, Community College of Rhode Island, the Mega-Plex, AIDS Care Ocean State, AIDS Project RI, Project Weber/RENEW, Rhodes on the Pawtuxet, the Town of South Kingstown, Providence Gay Flag Football League, Johnson & Wales University, AAA Northeast, the Eagle’s Nest, Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design, The Beneficent Church, The Dark Lady, and the Rhode Island Hospitality Association.

Eligibility for MPV vaccine

Rhode Island is vaccinating people who meet any of the following criteria:

  • People who are identified through a case investigation as close contacts of an individual with a known case of MPV
  • People who are age 18 or older AND are:
  • Any gay, bi, queer, or other man who has sex with men (or with people assigned male at birth) OR
  • Any person who has sex with a partner who is gay, bisexual, or a man who has sex with men (or with people assigned male at birth) OR
  • People of any gender who are commercial sex workers OR
  • People who work in or have sex in group or public sex venues OR
  • People who are currently on PrEP to prevent HIV* OR
  • Healthcare workers who are caring for individuals with confirmed or suspected MPV or are testing or vaccinating people who are at risk for MPV OR
  • Laboratory workers who handle MPV specimens

*PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is medicine that reduces your chances of getting HIV from sex or injection drug use.

About MPV vaccine

In Rhode Island, like other states, the JYNNEOS MPV vaccine is being administered. This is a two-dose series, with the second dose coming roughly 28 days after the first dose. You are considered fully vaccinated and protected 14 days after your second dose.

Unvaccinated people were 14 times more likely to get infected with the MPV compared with those who had one dose of the MPV vaccine, according to data from 32 states, including Rhode Island, released recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Two-doses are recommended for full protection.

General information about MPV

The U.S. and the world are currently responding to an outbreak of MPV. Rhode Island has identified 79 cases and more than 26,000 cases have been identified nationally. MPV is a virus that can be serious. It spreads through close physical contact with body fluids, MPV lesions, items that have been contaminated with fluids or lesion materials (clothing, bedding, etc.), or through respiratory droplets following prolonged face-to-face contact.

An individual becomes contagious when symptoms first appear. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, and a rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.

Nationally, many gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with other men have been diagnosed with MPV, especially those who have reported multiple or anonymous sexual partners. However, people of any sexual orientation or gender identity can become infected with MPV.

MPV prevention

In addition to getting vaccinated, people can take other prevention measures. Before having close, physical contact with others, talk to your partners about their health and any recent rashes or sores. Additionally, if you have symptoms, particularly a rash consistent with MPV (even if you do not think you were in contact with anyone with MPV), or if you have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with MPV:

  • Stay home and isolate from household members
  • Contact a healthcare provider as soon as possible for an evaluation
  • Avoid skin-to-skin, or close contact with others, including sexual contact
  • Inform sex partners about any symptoms you are experiencing
  • Cover the rash with clean, dry, loose-fitting clothing
  • If contacted by public health officials, answer their questions to help protect others who may have been exposed

For more information about MPV, please visit https://health.ri.gov/monkeypox. People can also call 401-222-5960.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here - https://whatsupnewp.com/2021/09/letter-from-the-publisher-some-personal-news/

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at ryan@whatsupnewp.com and 401-662-1653.