NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Thousands of visitors will flock to the city for Labor Day weekend for Southern Decadence and the LSU game. With big crowds expected, city leaders want to get ahead and keep residents and visitors safe by providing free monkeypox and COVID-19 vaccinations throughout the weekend.

Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact. The Louisiana Department of Health and the New Orleans Health Department partnered with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to host the Southern Decadence Health Hub. The hub will be located at the main entrance of Louis Armstrong Park at 801 N. Rampart Street. It will be open between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. beginning on Thursday, September 1, and run through the end of Southern Decadence on Labor Day.

According to an LDH spokesperson, 6 thousand doses of monkeypox vaccines are available for those who have an increased risk of getting monkeypox. “The folks that are eligible are men who have sex with men, gay bisexual, who are sexually active and have more than one partner. Also, anyone else who is at higher risk of monkeypox exposure, and this includes people who are HIV positive, it includes people who are experiencing homelessness, people who are using IV drugs, people who exchange sex for goods or other services,” said Theresa Sokol an epidemiologist with the Louisiana Department of Health.

She added that other people who are eligible include people who are at risk of occupational exposure including hospital workers, laboratory workers, and some people in the hospitality industry.

Here is how monkeypox can spread according to LDH:

  • Direct contact with monkeypox rash, sores, or scabs from a person with monkeypox.
  • Contact with objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
  • Hugging, massage, and kissing.
  • Oral, anal, and vaginal sex or touching the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus (butt) of a person with monkeypox.
  • Touching fabrics and objects that were used by a person with monkeypox and that have not been disinfected, such as bedding, towels, fetish gear, and sex toys.
  • People are encouraged to exchange contact information with partners to assist in contact tracing in the event of a monkeypox case.

Other health services will also be available to the public such as STI testing. Anyone interested in learning more about the hub can call 211.