The Reality of the Monkeypox Vaccine – The GW Hatchet

Two weeks ago I received one of over 20,000 doses Jyennos monkeypox vaccine. DC has received the ninth-highest number of vaccines in the United States with 24,175 doses shipped to the city as of August 29. Because I’m not a man who has sex with other men, I didn’t think I would qualify for the vaccine. But after further research, I found that those who to qualify for monkeypox vaccine in DC include people of any gender and sexual orientation who have had more than one sexual partner in the past two weeks, sex workers, or staff “in facilities where sexual activity occurs”. I was thrilled to play my part in preventing monkeypox, but receiving my first dose of the vaccine was an uncomfortable experience, both emotionally and physically.

Prior to my appointment, I assumed only gay people had access to the vaccine due to the homophobic language surrounding the spread of monkeypox. To prevent other people from believing the same misinformation, it is essential to avoid stigmata and stereotypes that fuel lies instead of slowing disease, such as blaming monkeypox on homosexuals. Other people like me may be eligible for the monkeypox vaccine but don’t know it. Although I am very grateful to qualify and receive the vaccine, I was abused several times during the appointment and continued to wait longer than expected for side effects, which made my experience totally unpleasant. .

The first one disappointment came when I immediately got the wrong gender when I walked into the monkeypox vaccination site. My heart fell into my stomach. “Can we see your appointment verification ladies,” the police officer said outside the DC Department of Health building. After showing them my QR code, the officer ushered me into a waiting room full of chairs where volunteers and doctors began adding “ma’am” to every sentence addressed to me. Because monkeypox is mainly reported among men who have sex with other men in the United States, I thought I would be surrounded by a queer community that would understand my non-binary identity. Healthcare facilities are usually stressful for me because of the heteronormativity that seeps in their. It’s impossible to go to the doctor without discussing my queer identity because of questions about sexual activity and discussions about my body. I found myself in a similar situation Monkeypox vaccination site, which seemed dangerous, intrusive and overwhelming.

Even after revealing my gender identity and using neutral pronouns on the forms filled out by all the patients, the staff working at the vaccination site kept misleading my gender. Being misgendered is exhausting because it’s a constant reminder that society categorizes me as a woman before anything else. Even when filling out the forms, I had to specify what sex I was assigned at birth, and while this information is necessary, it still stings to be repeatedly labeled as female. Getting my monkeypox shot showed me how, even in gay-dominated spaces, LGBTQ+ people are still misunderstood and discriminated against. But nothing will change the fact that I was abused. Instead, my desire to practice safer sex and protect others from the spread of monkeypox outweighed the discomfort.

At the time of receiving the dose, confusion and panic set in – the injection was the most painful vaccine I have ever had. Jhe Jynneos vaccine was injected by intradermal administration, a superficial injection that does not reach the fat in the forearm like most vaccines do, creating a red, irritable lump just below the surface of the skin. The insertion itself was more painful than expected. I was unprepared for the discomfort that would come with the shot making the physical side effects added stressful.

Now, two weeks after vaccination, the irritation from the vaccine has persisted. My forearm still itches and the punctured skin still hurts to the touch – symptoms that have been known to last for up to a month. Other side effects to understand headaches, muscle aches, fatigue and nausea, all of which are common also with other vaccines, but the prolonged period vaccine-related discomfort was a first for me.

The initial and lingering pain and itchiness was certainly manageable but also unexpected – an uncertainty that generated unnecessary panic that I was not prepared to handle. Everyone considering getting the shot should know what to expect about the shot and its side effects long before they get the shot – not just before the needle goes into their forearm.

In the end, getting vaccinated and avoiding monkeypox was worth it, but I wish DC Health would let me know better in advance. The department could have included videos or photos to explain the vaccination process in the emails they sent about my appointment. Health professionals on site should also communicate better about the experience and what it entails. I left the vision of vaccination shaken both emotionally and physically, not looking forward to returning in a month for my second injection. Since no one told me, I’ll tell you – be aware of the gender misconceptions and lack of queer knowledge at DC Health. The injection can also be painful, and side effects can last up to a month.

Here is a second dose that goes better than the first.

Riley Goodfellow, a sophomore in political science, is the opinion editor.

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