UPDATE: The original version of this story described Steamworks Baths as a private men’s gym that advertises skin-to-skin contact; it’s more accurately described as a bathhouse, which is a type of commercial sex venue.
BERKELEY, Calif. (KRON) – The City of Berkeley has teamed up with a local business to provide monkeypox vaccines, hoping to focus on people at higher risk. Nationally, monkeypox cases have been reported primarily in sexually-active gay and bisexual men.
A line stretched for hours outside of the Steamworks Baths in Berkeley on Wednesday. With help from the city, the county and the state’s public health departments, the gay bathhouse is offering vaccines to combat the spread of monkeypox.
“What people really need to know about monkeypox is that it’s low risk to the general population unless you’re engaging in higher-risk activity,” said Berkeley Public Health Spokesperson Matthai Chakko.
Health officials wanted to distribute vaccines at venues that are known for facilitating sexual activity between men. The goal is for the vaccines to reach people most at risk.
“You’re trying to get to people who may not have heard about it, may not know that there is a vaccine,” said Chakko. “You’re trying to get people who may not have access by chance and in the environments that they might be high risk.”
Vaccine availability has become a growing concern in the Bay Area and demand has remained high. Berkeley public health said it is trying to meet that demand but vaccine rollouts from the federal government are happening in phases.
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For those seeking a vaccine, Steamworks Baths has at least three more clinics scheduled.