“A long journey”: without vaccines against monkeypox, Mexicans go abroad in search of them

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As monkeypox continues to affect gay and bisexual men in dozens of countries around the world, at-risk Mexicans travel abroad to receive vaccines they say their government doesn’t know about. has bothered to put at your disposal.

Mexico ranks ninth globally in total monkeypox cases, according to the World Health Organization, but officials have not announced plans to purchase immunizations, even as other Latin American countries receive shipments.

“Looking for the vaccine has been a long journey,” said Alberto Herbel, a communicologist and organizer of late-night events, who flew from Mexico City to Los Angeles this month to get inoculated after unsuccessful attempts in France and Germany.

Herbel, 38, said she wanted the vaccine because half of her friends have been infected.

Spread overwhelmingly but not exclusively among gay and bisexual men, the viral disease is rarely fatal but can cause painful sores that hamper basic bodily functions for weeks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States (CDC, for its acronym in English) recommend vaccines for people at risk and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has stressed that they represent an “important tool” to stop the transmission, although they are rare worldwide.

Juan David Zuluaga, a 32-year-old resident of the Mexican capital, flew to Tijuana last week to get vaccinated across the border from the United States, in San Diego.

“I did not see a government plan,” he lamented. “I had to do something for myself.”

Mexico’s Ministry of Health did not respond to questions from Reuters about plans to purchase vaccines.

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Juan Carlos Lara, a store owner in Mexico City’s historic center, got vaccinated while on vacation in San Francisco last month.

“It was easy. They didn’t ask me for anything,” said Lara, 41, who like others plans to make another trip to receive the second recommended dose.

Mexico’s government has reported 2,147 confirmed cases of monkeypox since May, a figure that advocates for the gay community say is far below the reality of the problem.

Mexico is not among the 14 countries that have committed to buying immunizations through PAHO, which purchased 130,000 doses of the Jynneos vaccine, from the Danish biotech Bavarian Nordic. Brazil and Chile received the first shipments earlier this month.

Clinical trials are ongoing to assess the effectiveness of Jynneos in the prevention of monkeypox.

The vaccine is licensed for monkeypox in the United States, where a CDC study found that the incidence of monkeypox was 14 times higher among unvaccinated men compared to those who had received a first dose of Jynneos.

Ricardo Baruch, an LGBT health researcher, says he knows “easy” about 40 people who have left Mexico for the vaccine, but he worries that the situation will exacerbate inequalities in the gay community.

“The only thing that is going to cause is that people with visas and money are vaccinated and those who don’t have to resign themselves to eventually end up with smallpox,” he said.

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