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Suffolk County's monkeypox vaccine rollout will begin next week on Fire Island

Dr. Gregson Pigott
Office of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone
Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. Gregson Pigott describes the monkeypox vaccine rollout at a news conference on July 8, 2022

Suffolk County will open pop-up clinics next week for eligible residents to get the monkeypox vaccine. The first two locations will be on Fire Island, a popular vacation spot for the LGBTQ community. 

The clinics will be open in Cherry Grove and the Pines on Thursday and Friday, respectively. Officials said at-risk residents will be able to schedule vaccine appointments online beginning Monday.

Suffolk County Health Commissioner Gregson Pigott said the department is drawing on past experience with the COVID vaccine rollout, even though monkeypox is far less contagious.

“It’s not something you have to be concerned with if you’re walking, or if you’re in a crowded space and you’re just breathing the air," Pigott said at a news conference Friday. "It's not like COVID.” 

Over 130 monkeypox cases have been identified in New York, mostly among gay and bisexual men. Suffolk County has three confirmed cases, and Nassau County reported its first case on Friday

Anyone can spread monkeypox regardless of sexual orientation — through close physical contact or shared personal items, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

David Kilmnick, president of the LGBT Network in Hauppauge, cautioned against stigmatizing the gay community.

"The data shows now that gay and bisexual men are most impacted right now by monkeypox, and that's why we need to work together to target our outreach, to do education awareness and get that vaccine out there for those who are eligible and who are at risk — so that we can stop the spread," Kilmnick said.

Suffolk County has received 750 doses of the vaccine so far, the second highest amount in the state after New York City. Nassau County has received 400.

Desiree reports on the lives of military service members, veterans, and their families for WSHU as part of the American Homefront project. Born and raised in Connecticut, she now calls Long Island home.