We need Maryland to take MonkeyPox seriously

Something to Shout About 🗣

Contributed by
Marcus Bailey (he/him)
Baltimore Resident, District 40
Something to Shout About: Community Voices

 

Baltimore is a majority Black and Brown working-class city. The Maryland Department of Health’s response, or rather lack of one, to the MonkeyPox epidemic perpetuates further harm against the Black & Brown LGBTQIA+ community in this state. According to the CDC, this virus has disproportionately affected us more than others, and our community’s consistent lack of reliable healthcare leaves many at a loss if we do contract the virus. Most of us work in retail, service, or manual labor industries, and MonkeyPox will put us out of work, out of paychecks, out of rent money, and out of homes. MonkeyPox will have a huge impact on the already marginalized members of the LGBTQIA+ community. The response to this infectious disease is exactly the one our government had towards COVID, one that left millions dead with many others traumatized from their experiences recovering from the disease. Additionally, we are repeating mistakes that occurred with the HIV epidemic that claimed thousands of LGBTQIA+ lives. The CDC and MD Dept of Health’s limited inclusion criteria for vaccinations frame MonkeyPox as primarily an STI, dooming it to not receive the same open conversation, the same energy, or the same response we had to COVID. Monkey Pox as we know it is an infectious disease that is spread via skin-to-skin contact, respiratory droplets or even touching surfaces that an infected person has touched. Cases are popping up all across the country and are rising locally. We CAN NOT wait until a person has been exposed or is already infected to act. We need to set up a public vaccination program to help keep Maryland’s LGBTQIA+ community safe. We need allies in power to raise awareness of the racial and socioeconomic ramifications of this infection. Our state is currently at 48 reported cases and the efforts from local government to stop this spread are minimal and ineffective. WE NEED ACTION NOW. Not when it’s too late. 

 

PLEASE help us navigate this difficult time and get more vaccines out to the general public. As of today, the Health Department is only giving vaccines to people that have been potentially exposed or have the disease. Mass vaccinations are needed if we want to keep our community safe. We have seen this before, seen the government offer barely any support or care as an illness affecting the LGBTQIA+ community runs rampant. We cannot let that happen again. 

 

Want to fight this epidemic? Start a conversation with your healthcare provider regarding the vaccine. If you don’t have one, contact Secretary of Health Dennis Schrader and County Executive Steven Schuh at the Maryland Department of Health and ask them for a widespread vaccination rollout. Contact your local state representative about your concerns and tell them fighting for vaccinations is defending their community. Remind those meant to serve everyone in Maryland that their job is to help everyone, and that vaccinations are essential to protect our community from this disease. 

 

Marcus Bailey (he/him)

A Concerned Gay Black Man & Community Advocate

@callmebailey (Instagram Handle)

 

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