The Center Orlando hosts first monkeypox vaccine event

The Center Orlando held its first monkeypox vaccine event today, but with the demand for vaccines so high, they hope to be able to host more soon.

The Center Orlando in partnership with the Florida Department of Health administered 100 monkeypox vaccines Saturday. The appointments for the event booked up within minutes.

"By the time we had posted it, 17 minutes later we were completely booked," said Lamia Moukaddam, the Outreach Director at The Center. "Everyone’s on social like 'hey I got my vaccine!' They’re happy about it, they feel protected."

Moukaddam says the turnout shows how high the demand is for monkeypox vaccines in Central Florida.

"It 100 percent speaks to what we’ve been dealing with, it’s been difficult to get these vaccines, and the community is very much in need and willing to protect themselves," said Moukaddam.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida has 1,085 cases of monkeypox Saturday, which is the third-highest monkeypox case count in the country.

Seminole County Emergency Manager Alan Harris believes we can anticipate getting more monkeypox vaccines soon.

"In Central Florida, while we have some cases it’s certainly not what they are seeing New York, Miami, Fort Lauderdale," Harris said. "So they’re really trying to get the vaccines to the locations where they are seeing widespread transmission and trying to stop that and then working to get those for the individuals most at risk."

Harris said his department partnered with the DOH to provide vaccine clinics as monkeypox vaccines become more readily available and says the COVID-19 pandemic has prepared them to handle distributions because they still have the equipment, syringes, PPE, and other resources.

"People wonder why we haven’t issued a local state of emergency, well we don’t need to because we still have all of the equipment, and we still have all of the contracts for the nurses, we wouldn’t have to do anything special because it’s already in place," said Harris.

The Florida Department of Health is offering the monkeypox vaccine for those with certain risk factors. If you believe you have been exposed call your local county health department so you can get tested.