when monkeypox, The virus, usually confined to the forests of tropical Africa, was overcome by its endemic nature to infect humans around the world as of May (after symptomatic outbreaks in 2003 in the United States and in 2017 in Nigeria), aroused two hell: that of a barely controlled Covid crisis… and that of AIDS in the 80s.
A first prevalence, statistically verified, among “men who have sex with other men” (MSM, the briefcase term used in the medical community) was enough to create a double psychosis, accompanied by guilt and possible stigmatization. Gay men, accustomed to closely monitoring their health since the arrival of HIV, were quick to request the possibility of vaccination, particularly in the Alpes-Maritimes. In vain…
In France, until July 18, only the Île-de-France region offered various meeting options.
On this date, two and a half months after the start of the rebound in cases, the University Hospital of Nice inaugurated the campaign in 06, at the L’Archet hospital… until the opening to vaccination of the Free Information Center, Detection and Diagnosis (CeGIDD) of the city, at Avenida Baquis 8, on July 26.
The first spaces were assaulted.
Limited doses, fewer human resources in the summer, tourists asking for more doses… the LGBT+ community already feared shortages. In fact, the first 500 doses available in Nice were all booked in a few hours: impossible, until July 22, to get any appointment at Doctolib in the Alpes-Maritimes. We had to update the site for more than three days to get a date and place to appear.
“We will have to call again in the middle of the week, we will receive doses,” The CeGIDD operator was heard responding on Monday the 18th. What hit then?
A disease that can affect anyone
First of all, we must remember that, for the time being, only “men with multiple partners who have sex with men, transgender people with multiple partners, sex workers and people who work in places of sexual consumption” are the subject of this start of the campaign, following the opinion of the High Health Authority (HAS) on July 7. A heterosexual man who wants at all costs to be vaccinated against monkeypox must, on August 1 in France, lie about his sexual practices in order to get a vaccine.
“We follow the advice of scientists limiting ourselves to this target audience,” specifies Isabelle Buchet, deputy director of health in the Alpes-Maritimes, present during the official visit of the CeGIDD, this Monday, August 1 (in the presence of Eric Ciotti, president of the finance commission of the departmental council).
Priority audiences destined to evolve, given the unpredictable nature of any pandemic. The trained psychologist then compares these trials and errors to the wearing of a mask, in March 2020, which left public authorities in troubled waters, leading to a loss of public trust. “We were moving forward with the conflicting information we were given.”
“There is a very fine line between doing prevention for a very specific public and stigmatizing a part of the population.”
In addition to the adventures of Covid-19, this time we walk on eggshells so as not to repeat the mistakes of the years of AIDS.“There is a very fine line between doing prevention for a very specific public and ending up stigmatizing a part of the population”, she admits
The objective: to avoid, above all, that the French associate monkeypox with a “gay cancer”, which would affect only a tiny part of the population. And this, without being angelic in the face of epidemiological realities. However, it took the WHO to trigger its highest level of alert, on July 23, due to the “general population” realize that this virus would not stop at the frontiers of gay sexuality.
Remember in this regard that it is not, strictly speaking, a “sexually transmitted infection” (STI) and that it is spread “by any close physical contact”, according to New England Journal of Medicine. A statistical reality simply places the current explosion of its transmission (95% of cases) among gay and bisexual men who have had several partners during the year 2022. Possible clue: a very first “homo cluster” in Maspalomas Gay Pride, in the Canary Islands, where 250,000 Europeans gathered to celebrate it at the beginning of May.
The more time passes, the more obsolete this percentage will be. Recent infections in women and children already prove it. Therefore, we must act quickly.
Single dose for men born before 1974
At the time of the appointment, a questionnaire is completed, with a declarative character; a health professional explains the (rare) side effects to you and everything goes very quickly. We stretch the left shoulder, injection, bandage, fifteen minute wait, second appointment at 28 days, and that’s it, we’re out… It will take two more weeks for the vaccine to be effective. For those who lived through the Covid years (that is, the entire country), nothing really new.
People born before 1974 who received a dose of the “first generation” smallpox vaccine as children only receive a second dose.
The main problem, paradoxically, is that smallpox was thought to be eradicated forever, particularly in Europe and North America. If, despite some setbacks, getting the prevention machine back on track after two years of Covid was almost easy, making vaccines is proving more difficult. The only laboratory currently capable of producing doses (Bavaric Nordic, in Denmark), has seen millions of orders arrive since the beginning of June from all over the world.
Only 600 people vaccinated in 06
It is the Regional Health Agency (ARS) that calculates each week the number of doses required for each hospital and each health center in the Alpes-Maritimes. The latter will pick them up at the pharmacy… within the limit of available stocks. A difficult balance to find in the height of the summer season, when tourists mix with the local population, asking for an appointment.
“Out of place”, observes Dr. Pascal Pugliese, a doctor at the University Hospital of Nice and president of the French Society for the Fight against AIDS, on the 600 people vaccinated in the Maritime Alps to date, out of a target of 4,000 men in the department (in a new rate of 200 per week). In France, 250,000 people are currently considered at risk.
Although appointments have become more fluid with the multiplication of health establishments capable of vaccinating in the Alpes-Maritimes (read below), we are still crowded.
On Monday August 1 at 1:00 p.m., if there were several free places for August 19 at Nice University Hospital, there was only one dose available for Wednesday August 3 in Grasse.
Therefore, there are still waiting lists, which the ARS promises to control: “We make sure that they are not too long, and that these expectations are resolved as they arise, calling patients instead of opening new slots when we do not yet have the doses,” sums up this head of the ARS. “We match needs and endowments.she promises.
The fact is that the enigma of the second dose is already in everyone’s head. In our case, the second appointment was given directly by the doctor responsible for the first injection, without going through Doctolib. See you on August 26.
Where to get vaccinated against monkeypox in the Maritime Alps?
– At the CeGIDD in Nice, 8 avenue Baquis. At Doctolib or at 04 89 04 55 60. CeGIDD has just received the ARS Paca label.
– At the municipal vaccination center, rue Saint François de Paule/rue Max Gallo. At Doctolib or at 04 97 13 56 00.
– At the University Hospital of Nice. About Doctolib.
– At the Cannes-Simone Veil hospital. At Doctolib, on 04 93 69 71 79, or by email at [email protected]
– In the hospital center of Grasse: make an appointment at Doctolib.
– CeGIDD Antibes branch, starting Tuesday, August 2. About Doctolib.
– CeGIDD branch in Menton, starting Monday, August 8. About Doctolib.