It’s bucketing with rain here in Sydney, and I’ve made the brave choice to go for a walk down the road.
This is important though.
After weeks of waiting, I’ve managed to book in for a monkeypox vaccine, so this isn’t an appointment I’m wanting to miss on account of a bit of rain.
I check in with the front desk, handing over some basic information, and within seconds I’m sitting chatting to Cassie, who’ll be delivering my first vaccination.
She explains that the JYNNEOS vaccine is used to prevent infection with smallpox and monkeypox viruses, using a weakened live vaccinia virus that cannot cause the disease.
It’s administered in a slightly different way than we’re used to after the events of the last two years.
The vaccine’s deposited under the surface of the skin in my left forearm. I’m told it’ll leave a small red bump there for a week or two.
Worldwide, the gay community has been clamouring for access to a monkeypox vaccine, ever since the virus started gaining attention.
It’s important to note that the disease itself is unlikely to cause death, but those who contract it are instructed to isolate for 21 days.
Getting a couple of injections seems like a small price to pay, especially after we’ve all spent so long stuck indoors these past few years.
As I wait around for the next 15 minutes, I think about how privileged I am to be accessing a vaccination, when many of my mates back in Aotearoa still have no clarity on when they’ll be able to get one.
In Australia, as far as I can see, there are appointments to spare. Many of those I’ve spoken to have already had two doses.
Health authorities here are cautiously optimistic they’ve got this outbreak circled, because of the vaccination push and prominent messaging around the risks.
It’s a completely different story in New Zealand, with vaccines still months away.
In August, Pharmac told 1News that initial orders weren’t expected until December, subject to a finalised agreement with the vaccine supplier. The organisation and Te Whatu Ora’s also in negotiations for ‘at least’ 20,000 doses.
Yes, I get it, we’re well and truly fed up with the virus stories. Whether it’s the latest information on new Covid-19 variants, or the talk around a third and fourth vaccine, we’re well and truly jabbed out.
However, this is really important, particularly for the LGBTQ+ community.
You may have seen the headlines around monkeypox in New Zealand, with a slowly increasing number of community transmission cases being detected.
The long and short of it is, the virus has entered the community, and is starting to be passed on from person to person. Currently the risk is higher for men who have sex with men. Put simply, this is the community the virus is currently moving through at present, so a lot of the messaging has been targeting them.
No, the spread of monkeypox isn’t likely to be as fatal as Covid-19, but it’s still a great concern for many people.
Those who are the most likely to be at risk of being infected deserve greater clarity on when they’ll be able to get some protection.