When monkeypox, virus usually confined to the forests of tropical Africa, saw its endemic nature exceeded to come to infect human beings all over the world from May (after symptomatic outbreaks in 2003 in the United States and in 2017 in Nigeria), it woke up two demons: that of a barely controlled Covid crisis… and that of AIDS in the 80s.
A first prevalence, statistically proven, among “men who have sex with other men” (MSM, the suitcase term used in the medical community) was indeed enough to create a double psychosis, accompanied by guilt and possible stigmatization. Gay men, accustomed to monitoring their health closely since the advent of HIV, quickly asked for the possibility of being vaccinated, particularly in the Alpes-Maritimes. In vain…
In France, until July 18, only the Île-de-France region offered several meeting options.
On this date, two and a half months after the start of the upsurge in cases, the Nice University Hospital inaugurated the campaign in the 06, at the L’Archet hospital… until the opening to vaccination of the Free Center for Information, Screening and Diagnosis (CeGIDD) of the city, at 8 avenue Baquis, on July 26.
The first slots were stormed.
Limited doses, fewer human resources during the summer period, tourists asking for more doses… the LGBT+ community was already fearing the shortage. In fact, the first 500 doses available in Nice were all reserved in a few hours: impossible, until July 22, to obtain any appointment on Doctolib in the Alpes-Maritimes. We had to refresh the site for more than three days to see a date and a place appear.
“We will have to call back in the middle of the week, we will receive doses”, was heard to respond by the operator of the CeGIDD, Monday 18. What stuck then?
A disease that can affect anyone
We must first recall that, for the moment, only “multi-partner men who have sex with men, multi-partner transgender people, sex workers and people working in places of sexual consumption” are targeted by this start of the campaign, after an opinion from the High Authority for Health (HAS) on July 7. A heterosexual man who wants at all costs to be vaccinated against monkey pox should, on August 1 in France, lie about his sexual practices to get a shot.
“We follow the advice of scientists by confining 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 trial and error to those around the wearing of a mask, in March 2020, which left the public authorities in troubled waters, generating a loss of public confidence. “We were moving forward with the contradictory information that we were given.”
“There is a fine line between doing prevention for a very targeted audience and stigmatizing part of the population.”
In addition to the wanderings of Covid-19, this time we are walking on eggshells so as not to reproduce the errors of the AIDS years.“The line is fine between doing prevention for a very targeted audience and ending up stigmatizing part of the population”, she admits.
The goal? Avoid, above all, that the French associate monkeypox with a “gay cancer”, which would concern only a tiny part of the population. And this, without being angelic in the face of epidemiological realities. It was necessary for the WHO to trigger its highest level of alert on July 23 for the “general population” realize that this virus would not stop at the borders of gay sexuality.
Remember in this respect that it is not, strictly speaking, a “sexually transmitted infection” (STI) and that it spreads “by any close physical contact”, according to New England Journal of Medicine. A statistical reality simply locates the explosion of its transmission (95% of cases) among gay and bisexual men who have had several partners during the year 2022. Possible track: a very first “homo cluster” at Gay Pride in Maspalomas, in the Canary Islands, where 250,000 Europeans gathered to party in early May.
The more time passes, the more this percentage will be obsolete. Recent infections in women and children already prove this. We must therefore act quickly.
Single dose for men born before 1974
Once the moment of the appointment has arrived, a questionnaire is thus filled out, on a declarative basis; a health professional explains the (rare) side effects to you, and everything goes very quickly. We stretch the left shoulder, injection, bandage, fifteen minutes of waiting, a second appointment 28 days later, and it’s over, we are out… Two additional weeks will be necessary for the vaccine to be effective . For those who lived through the Covid years (i.e. the whole country), nothing really new.
People born before 1974 who received a dose of “first generation” smallpox vaccine as a child are only given a second dose.
The main problem, paradoxical, is that smallpox was thought to be eradicated forever, particularly in Europe and North America. If, despite a few hiccups, getting the prevention machine back in motion 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) which estimates each week the number of doses necessary 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 middle of the summer season, when tourists mingle with the local population, asking for appointments.
“It is off the mark”, observes Dr Pascal Pugliese, doctor at the Nice University Hospital and president of the French Society for the Fight against AIDS, about the 600 people vaccinated in the Alpes-Maritimes to date, out of a target of 4,000 men targeted in the department (at 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 able to vaccinate in the Alpes-Maritimes (read below), we remain tight.
On Monday August 1 at 1 p.m., if there were several free slots for August 19 at the Nice University Hospital, only one dose was available for Wednesday August 3, in Grasse.
There are therefore 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, by calling patients rather than 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 puzzle of the second dose is already in everyone’s head. In our case, the second appointment was given to us 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 Alpes-Maritimes?
– At the CeGIDD in Nice, 8 avenue Baquis. On Doctolib or on 04 89 04 55 60. The CeGIDD has just received labeling from the ARS Paca.
– At the municipal vaccination center, rue Saint François de Paule/rue Max Gallo. On Doctolib or on 04 97 13 56 00.
– At the University Hospital of Nice. On Doctolib.
– At the Cannes-Simone Veil hospital. On Doctolib, on 04 93 69 71 79, or by email at [email protected]
– At the Grasse hospital center: make an appointment on Doctolib.
– CeGIDD Antibes branch, from Tuesday 2 August. On Doctolib.
– CeGIDD branch in Menton, from Monday 8 August. On Doctolib.
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