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Chicago health officials ramp up monkeypox awareness outreach ahead of Market Days

CHICAGO (WLS) — Officials say another 13,000 monkeypox vaccines are coming to Chicago in the next week or so, but with Market Days scheduled for this weekend the city is ramping up its awareness campaign.

The incoming doses are still far short of demand. In Northalsted there are signs in windows warning of the outbreak, part of a targeted outreach effort days before thousands are expected to gather for Market Days.

“It’s definitely a critical moment,” said Antonio Elizondo of Howard Brown Health. “We’re trying to find different paths and avenues to reach community where they’re at, break down boundaries by actually being in their communities and their neighborhoods, and bringing the vaccination to them.”

RELATED: Monkeypox vaccine being prioritized in Chicago for those most at-risk, Dr. Arwady says

At an evening virtual town hall, city leaders detailed the weekend’s outreach efforts.

“We appreciate that the Chicago Department of Public Health will be on site at the entries educating. We’ll have posters and videos, everything else communicating the same type of messaging,” said Mark Liberson, vice president of the Northalsted Business Alliance and chair of Market Days.

Monkeypox is spread primarily through skin-to-skin contact, including through sex. The majority of cases, for the moment, have been among gay and bisexual men.

MONKEYPOX | Everything you need to know about symptoms, spread, treatment and vaccines

Officials say communication is among the most effective tools in combatting the spread.

“Turn the lights on before you turn the lights off,” said CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady. “Be having conversations with your partners. If either of you have a sore, go get diagnosed before you’re having that contact.”

READ MORE: Gov. JB Pritzker declares monkeypox a public health emergency in Illinois

Illinois now accounts for one in 12 U.S. monkeypox cases, with infections rising not just in Chicago.

“Of late, in the last few days, we’ve now started to see cases in suburban Cook County, outside of the city proper, so it’s really starting to spread within the community,” said Dr. Robert Citronberg, director of infectious disease at Advocate Aurora Health.

“We’re noticing that monkeypox is going to continue to spread outside of just men who have sex with men, and so we’ve got to prepare for those different efforts to happen around community in general,” Elizondo said.

Cases among children have been diagnosed in parts of the country, but officials said in Chicago there have only been adult cases so far.

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