Health Services will host an on-campus monkeypox vaccination clinic held by the Rhode Island Department of Health on Oct. 15. The clinic will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room at the Health & Wellness Center.
Vaccine eligibility criteria in Rhode Island include men who have sex with men, individuals who have sex with men who have sex with men, sex workers and healthcare and laboratory workers who interact with monkeypox patients or specimens.
Monkeypox is a “rare, but potentially serious, viral illness” which begins with “flu-like symptoms and swelling of the lymph nodes and progresses to a rash on the face and body,” according to RIDOH. There have been 74 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Rhode Island.
The vaccination clinic is meant for those in and beyond the Brown community, including students at the Rhode Island School of Design, wrote Vanessa Britto MSc’96, associate vice president for campus life and executive director of health and wellness, in an email to The Herald.
“We want to be part of helping to protect both individual and community health, in this case by making the vaccine more easily accessible to students and members of the community,” Britto wrote. “Additionally, because supplies of the vaccine have been so limited, we determined that it would be helpful to co-promote this clinic with RISD such that both student communities could be served.”
RIDOH “just opened up new slots for us and they've been giving us some additional times, so we're excited about that,” Director of Nursing Christine Benvie said. “There's been a good response” from the department, she added.
Students experiencing symptoms of monkeypox must isolate in accordance with guidelines from RIDOH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to an Aug. 12 announcement from Health Services.
“An undergraduate student who lives on campus would be assisted in relocating to temporary housing,” Britto wrote. “We would also offer guidance to travel home given the length of isolation, if that was more feasible.”
Additionally, students who do not live in dorms would self-isolate in their off-campus housing, and Health Services would provide specific isolation guidance and recommendations that are appropriate to students’ circumstances, according to Britto.
Brown’s monkeypox policies continue to evolve, Health Services Clinical Director Adam Pallant said.
“What we say today might not be the same tomorrow,” Pallant said. “As treatment opportunities broaden and testing opportunities broaden, we will likely take on more of a role if we were to be faced with (monkeypox). But, if somebody does have monkeypox and lives on campus, we do have the opportunity to isolate them until they're free from isolation by CDC guidelines.”
Britto recommends Brown community members who are eligible for the vaccine receive it.
“If someone who is eligible is hesitant to receive (the vaccine), the best advice that Health Services would offer is to speak to a care provider or physician about those hesitations, and consider the question of vaccination together,” Britto wrote. “Making an informed decision is important, and if a knowledge gap underlies someone’s hesitancy, for example, we would want them to be able to close the gap with helpful, accurate information.”
Students can register for the upcoming clinic online.