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Seattle residents drive to Canada for monkeypox vaccine doses

Seattle residents are finding their own ways to get the vaccine. Some are going to different states while others are traveling to Canada.

SEATTLE — With supplies limited, Seattle residents are traveling far and wide to acquire doses of the monkeypox vaccine, as the virus has been deemed a global health emergency by the World Health Organization.

It can take up to a week or more for symptoms of monkeypox to show up, so University of Washington virologists say we will see more cases soon.

According to the state department of health, the supply for the vaccine is limited. To get the vaccine in Washington, you have to have close contact with a confirmed case or have contracted monkeypox.

"King County health was being very slow with the uptake of access to dosing and communicating in general," said Seattle resident Justin Moore.

92 people have tested positive for monkeypox, according to Washington's Department of Health.

The state has requested and received 3,550 doses of the vaccine, according to the Administration for Strategic Preparedness & Response.

"It became apparent to me that I was going to have to seek out other places to get it," said Moore, who decided to take his health into his own hands.

With no definitive timeline to get the vaccine, Moore and his friends made the two-hour trip to British Columbia. 

"It was actually very easy, very seamless."

He said it took 15 minutes to get vaccinated and that they weren't worried about citizenship.

The State Department of Health told KING 5 that because of the limited supply, there are no plans to hold mass vaccination clinics. 

"That's one of the major barriers that we are hearing about in terms of being able to access the vaccine," Moore said.

Moore connects the harmful stigma surrounding monkeypox with previous infectious disease outbreaks. 

"I can't help as a gay man feel that as a gay man we haven't learned much from other crises where we've been used as targets for these outbreaks."

It's a sentiment that Doctor Stephaun Wallace said could harm communities.

"Please do not think that you don't identify as a gay person or the LGBTQIA community that you are not at risk for monkeypox," Wallace said.

Wallace is a staff scientist with Fred Hutch, and he also works with HIV and COVID vaccine trials. He has watched the stigma perpetuated with HIV and now monkeypox. 

"The way that stigma has been perpetuated for monkeypox has certainly appeared to me and others that we have not learned enough," said Wallace.

For now, Moore says he feels safer now that he's vaccinated. 

"We owe it to our communities to do better and protect those who would be most affected by monkeypox," Moore exclaimed.

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