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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Wisconsin's monkeypox vaccine rates are disproportionately lower in communities of color.

Wisconsin monkeypox data shows racial disparities in cases, vaccinations

New monkeypox data from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services found people of color had lower vaccination rates despite bearing an outsized share of Wisconsin’s case burden.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services released a new monkeypox webpage last Wednesday, including new vaccine information and more data displaying how the outbreak is disproportionately affecting marginalized groups.

Wisconsin recorded 75 total monkeypox cases as of Sept. 28, according to the DHS webpage — 15 of which were from Dane County. The week of Aug. 6 had the most prominent peak of cases in Wisconsin, the new DHS data report presents. 

“This data provides key insights that will help empower Wisconsinites to stay healthy, safe and informed,” DHS secretary-designee Karen Timberlake said in a press release. “As the monkeypox outbreak continues to evolve, DHS is committed to providing accurate and relevant data to the public.” 

DHS also released a new report last week that analyzed demographic disparities behind Wisconsin’s monkeypox outbreak. The report concluded 45% of all Wisconsin monkeypox cases were diagnosed among non-white individuals despite people of color accounting for 19% of the state’s population, a trend DHS said was consistent nationwide.

The report also found 75% of people who received the vaccine identified as white. Only 9% of those vaccinated identified as Black or African-American and just 12% identified as Hispanic or Latino. 

DHS outlined four solutions to combat racial disparities within monkeypox transmission and vaccination in its report. 

The goals include using health care providers and other community organizations to help identify and remove vaccination barriers, prioritizing vaccinations for high-risk individuals, expanding Wisconsin’s vaccination network and creating informational toolkits about the disease for statewide health partners that help those most affected.

Monkeypox vaccines remain available in Wisconsin for any known or presumed monkeypox contacts, men who have sex with other men, gender non-conforming people with multiple or anonymous sexual partners and select health care providers or laboratory employees. 

Editor's Note: This story was updated at 11:45 a.m. on Oct. 5 to correct the percentage of Wisconsin's population who identify as people of color from 38% to the correct number, 19%.

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Ava Menkes

Ava Menkes is the managing editor at The Daily Cardinal. She previously served as the state news editor. She has covered multiple stories about the upcoming election, healthcare and campus, and written in-depth about rural issues, legislative maps and youth voter turnout. She will be an incoming intern with Wisconsin Watch. Follow her on Twitter at @AvaMenkes.

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