Hoylman-Sigal funds mpox vaccines for Pride Month at Ryan Health

State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal (second from left) stands with representatives from Ryan Health at Ryan Chelsea-Clinton location on May 31.
State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal (second from left) stands with representatives from Ryan Health at Ryan Chelsea-Clinton location on May 31.
Matt Tracy

Following an uptick in mpox cases in New York City, out gay State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal of Manhattan announced $30,000 in funding for mpox vaccine doses at Ryan Health locations across Manhattan.

“We know that in 2022, there was a very serious outbreak of mpox here in New York City and across the country, and frankly, we were, as a state and as a nation, unprepared,” Hoylman-Sigal said during a May 31 press conference in front of Ryan Chelsea-Clinton’s health center at 645 10th Ave. “But today, thanks to the good folks at Ryan Cheslea-Clinton, we are going to be prepared by establishing a new stock of vaccines that we can use during Pride Month.”

Hoylman-Sigal and Ryan Health officials held up an enlarged check to highlight the funding to administer doses of the JYNNEOS mpox vaccine across Ryan Health’s 18 health centers, which are mostly scattered up and down the west side of Manhattan. There are also some outposts in the Lower East Side.

The funding comes at a critical juncture in the fight against mpox. New York City health officials warned the public about a “substantial increase” in mpox cases since October, with 42 cases in the last month as of May 9 and nearly 200 cases since the beginning of the year. The uptick has prompted vaccination awareness campaigns, including from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but those efforts have been complicated by looming barriers to vaccine access just two years after doses were in short supply despite a widespread outbreak. The situation improved once the federal government finally distributed doses after painstaking delays.

City health officials told Gay City News in mid-May that no-cost federal vaccines will remain available until the early summer, but they conceded that the vaccine has entered the commercial market and it is not clear whether all shots will remain free for the foreseeable future.

“Unfortunately, supplies from the federal government are very, very limited and health centers like ours must now purchase the vaccine from the manufacturers,” said Daniel Pichinson, the president and CEO of Ryan Health.

Since the federal government is no longer distributing free doses like in the 2022 outbreak, Ryan Health said Hoylman-Sigal’s funding will allow the organization to purchase an initial supply of doses from the manufacturer to cover insured and uninsured people.

Daniel Pichinson, the president and CEO of Ryan Health.
Daniel Pichinson, the president and CEO of Ryan Health.Matt Tracy

The vaccine is not necessarily free for everyone who goes to Ryan Health. Those who have health insurance will have to go through their insurance provider, but the vaccine will still be administered free of charge to uninsured individuals as well as those who cannot afford co-pays and those whose plans do not cover the vaccine. 

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene also provided Ryan Health with a limited supply of mpox vaccine doses for uninsured individuals. Hoylman-Sigal’s funding will translate to about a month-long supply of doses, according to Ryan Health officials who delivered remarks at the press conference. 

Other local organizations are also calling for individuals to get vaccinated against mpox, including Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, which issued a statement on May 31 encouraging community members to visit vaccinefinder.nyc.gov to find a free vaccination site.

In the meantime, Ryan Health — as well as the city Health Department — will take the mpox vaccine awareness campaign on the road across the city throughout Pride Month to inform community members about the need to get vaccinated. William Arboleda, the interim executive director of Ryan Chelsea-Clinton, said Ryan Health will have mpox vaccine doses readily available at multiple events, including PrideFest and New York City Pride on the final Sunday of June.

“Mpox is not going anywhere. There have been already at least 200 cases of mpox here in New York City that we know about and we know that as the months warm up to the summer and people spend more time socializing, those numbers could potentially increase,” Hoylman-Sigal said. “So the message here today is: get vaxxed.”

Speaking to Gay City News after the press conference, Hoylman-Sigal — who has introduced legislation authorizing pharmacists or certified nurse practitioners to administer the vaccine — emphasized the need for a gameplan to address mpox beyond Pride Month. 

“I was speaking to the medical director and the physicians here at Ryan Chelsea-Clinton and we may have to go to the state or make a pitch to the federal government to provide more subsidized vaccines,” Hoylman-Sigal explained. “The fact is, the vaccine is very expensive. It’s about $150 and there’s a co-pay if you have insurance — but for those who don’t, the most vulnerable, you can’t have them unprotected if there’s another surge of mpox. Everything is suggesting that there might be one and this is a completely preventable illness.”

He added. “I’m hopeful that the federal government will step up. They should be planning now especially as the summer months are upon us.”