Community Health task force to consult CDPH weekly on Monkeypox recommendations


Mary Altaffer | AP

Physician Assistant Susan Eng-Na prepares a syringe with the monkeypox vaccine before giving a patient a shot at the OASIS Wellness Center on Friday, Aug. 19.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) does not recommend that colleges mandate the monkeypox vaccination. However, they do encourage eligible students to protect themselves

Illinois guidance states: “It is possible that tight-knit social and sexual contacts/activity on college campuses may lead to additional spread of the MPV virus.” 

IDPH recommends that “even if spread does not occur, awareness and educational efforts are needed to address student concerns and misinformation.”

DePaul students like junior Alik Schier decided to get vaccinated because he heard peers in the queer community raising awareness of monkeypox prevalence. 

“This was something that I wanted to do,” Schier said. “I had known friends who wanted to do it as well and already got it. I wanted to get it as quickly as I could.”

The Chicago Department of Public Health updated their monkeypox vaccine eligibility requirements for Chicago residents who are over 18 years old and exposed to someone positive or “sexually active bisexual, gay and other men who have sex with men, and transgender persons,” according to an Aug. 18 update from the city. 

Chicago initially received a restricted amount of vaccine doses in June and July, according to CDPH. The city continues to prioritize vulnerable populations. Anu Hazra, an infectious disease physician at Howard Brown Health Center, said that infection would not occur in the classroom. 

“In this outbreak, there has been no spread in college classrooms or school classrooms,” Hazra said. “It’s not been the way that we’ve seen it. So rubbing up against someone in a class or getting to on a hallway or on the quad, that’s not a way that we’ve seen this current outbreak spread person to person.”

Hazra recommends colleges frame monkeypox prevention with other STI educational campaigns. 

Gene Zdziarski, vice president of student affairs, said that the Community Health task force will be consulting with CDPH weekly about monkeypox recommendations. If a case were to happen, they would consult with the city. 

“Should a case or incident happen within our campus community, we’re going to be working directly with them on those cases, much in the same way we would if this were meningitis,” Zdziarski said. 

Hazra said vaccine accessibility will be crucial for vulnerable populations rather than a mandate at this time. 

“I don’t think any place will be mandating vaccines,” he said. “I don’t really think that would be super useful at this time, but making sure that folks who are eligible for vaccines and are requesting vaccines have access to them or readily access to them I think is important.”

Several locations throughout the city, including Howard Brown Health Center, are offering monkeypox vaccine clinics. Schier said connecting with the community and its resources will be key for students. 

“We have really great resources on campus, but we have even better resources outside of campus where you can find people who [have] the same identity as you, who share a similar story with you,” he said. 

Illinois has 1,134 vaccines as of Sept. 8, and CDPH expects to have more vaccines “in the coming weeks and months.”

Connect with Nadia Carolina Hernandez: @naddivz | [email protected]