An illustration of monkeypox virus particles.

Black Michiganders got 60% of monkeypox cases, only 17% of vaccines

Even though 60% of the people who have gotten monkeypox in Michigan so far are Black, 70% of the doses of the vaccine that can prevent infection or limit symptoms after exposure have gone to white Michiganders.

Black residents have gotten just 17% of the doses administered so far in Michigan, new state health department data shows.

And when the first doses of Tecovirimat, the antiviral treatment more widely known as Tpoxx, arrived in Michigan, Oakland and Washtenaw counties got them — not Detroit, a majority Black city that has 38% of Michigan’s known monkeypox infections, said Dr. Shira Heisler, a Wayne Health physician and medical director of the Detroit Public Health Sexually Transmitted Diseases Clinic.

‘No way to physically get’ viral treatment to needy patient

These are among the inequities fueled by an underfunded public health system already battered by the COVID-19 pandemic, a rising number of sexually transmitted diseases and newly stressed by the world’s biggest monkeypox outbreak, Heisler said.

In those early weeks of the monkeypox outbreak, Heisler said she fielded calls from people concerned they might have the virus. Because her clinic was so short-staffed, she didn’t have anyone else to pick up the phone. She was also testing and treating patients with the virus and administering vaccines.

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