PHILADELPHIA—The Philadelphia Department of Public Health released a data dashboard that contains demographic information on monkeypox cases in Philadelphia, and Philadelphia residents who have been vaccinated against monkeypox. The Health Department, as part of its goal to be as transparent as possible, is one of the first jurisdictions in the country to report demographics on both people who have monkeypox and vaccine recipients. The data dashboards will be updated weekly on Mondays, except on holidays when the update will be pushed to Tuesday.
The first published data set shows that nearly 90% of the cases in Philadelphia identify as cisgender male, nearly 50% of cases are between the ages of 30 and 39, and more than twice as many cases report race as Black or African American than White. More than 93% of vaccines have been administered to men, 43% of doses have been administered to residents between the ages of 30 and 39, and 58% of doses have been administered to people who report their race as White.
“From early data on the vaccination campaign, we are seeing that despite multiple strategies in place to increase equity, disparities in vaccination remain,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole. “It appears from our experience with COVID-19 vaccination that we will need to set up partnership vaccine clinics in diverse neighborhoods in order to better reach Black high-risk Philadelphians. That will take funding, so we are advocating to federal agencies to fund this effort and, given the urgency, working to identify internal funds that we can pull temporarily to enable us to start while waiting for federal funding.”
Since the beginning of the monkeypox vaccine program, the Health Department has taken decisive steps to include members of the LGBTQ and Black and brown communities in planning to vaccinate those at the most risk. Most importantly, appointments have been only been made available to those who are the highest risk of monkeypox, as opposed to the Health Department’s COVID-19 vaccine program, which initially allowed more affluent Philadelphians easier access to the vaccine. When that effort did not achieve the desired results, the Health Department pivoted to focus more effort on outreach and partnerships with advocates and organizations in the Black and brown communities.
Some examples of this focus on equity include meeting with advocates to discuss overall response strategies, including how to expand vaccination efforts. The Health Department has been inviting individuals from our databases that may be high risk and targeted zip codes and demographics following our case trends. The Health Department met with Philly Black Pride to promote City-operated vaccination clinics and allow them to reserve appointment slots at clinics for persons who are referred by Philly Black Pride. The Health Department is working to identify organizations that serve persons at high-risk for monkeypox that would like to collaborate with PDPH to host vaccination clinics and/or expand outreach efforts. The City is allocating vaccine to providers who care for diverse populations, including Bebashi and City Health Centers. Discussions with other federally qualified health centers to further expand access are ongoing.
The Health Department’s monkeypox data dashboard can be found on the City’s monkeypox webpage.