ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. – Colorado’s only beach pride event, Aurora Pride celebrated its biggest year yet on Saturday, with about 10,000 people in attendance, according to organizers.
“I remember the first one and I was like, ‘Oh, Aurora, really?’ But this is great,” Mike Maez said.
Among the booths, vendors and health resources, a Tri-County Health Department was also there, offering HIV testing and more.
Aurora Pride, Tri-County Health partner for monkeypox vaccine clinic
New this year, due to the monkeypox outbreak, the health department also hosted a monkeypox vaccine clinic, offering about 400 doses on a first-come, first-served basis.
Maez, who received his vaccine at a different clinic Saturday morning, says the availability of vaccines at Aurora Pride goes a long way for the community, and the demand for the vaccine at the event proved that.
“I think the government has failed us too many times, and they’re kind of behind the ball on this,” he said. “The fact that [they’re] trying to catch up … is very important.”
Zander Oklar, executive director of Aurora Pride, says he and Tri-County Health worked closely together to make it happen.
“A lot of people have been, you know, hunting and looking for this vaccine, and we’re so happy that they can come here and get vaccinated and be safe,” he said.
Community members say there is a growing stigma, similar to what they faced during the HIV/AIDS crisis, but the focus, they argue, should be on the facts: that anyone can get monkeypox and that there are resources available to prevent and treat. that.
“Unfortunately, I think it’s just part of this society that we have to deal with,” said Bobby Wilkinson. “The most important thing is … we know it’s there, we have vaccines and getting people vaccinated, keeping people safe, that’s the most important thing.”