PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island community health centers and clinics are requiring appointments for the vaccine used to prevent monkeypox. Nearly 1,000 doses have been allocated to the state so far.

Open Door Health, a Rhode Island Public Health Institute (RIPHI) initiative and the state’s leading LGBTQ+ primary care and sexual health clinic, is one of the locations accepting vaccination appointment requests on a first-come, first-served basis.

On Wednesday, Gov. Dan McKee’s office announced eligibility for the monkeypox vaccine was expanded beyond close contacts of someone who tested positive for the virus.

Rhode Island residents who are 18 and older and identify as gay, bisexual, queer, or who have sex with men and/or transgender individuals are now newly eligible, along with those who have had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the past 30 days.

Dr. Philip Chan, a consultant medical director for the R.I. Department of Health and the medical director at Open Door Health, said anyone can get monkeypox, but it’s “disproportionately impacting gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men, for reasons that aren’t fully understood.”

“That’s the population that it’s really circulating at the moment,” Chan added. “Therefore, based on this, we’re prioritizing that group for vaccination.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified 26 monkeypox cases in Rhode Island as of Thursday. Local health officials say the risk to most Rhode Islanders is still considered low.

J.D., 40, of Providence, received his first JYNNEOS vaccine on Thursday. He’s newly eligible since he identifies as gay.

J.D. told 12 News he felt a sense of relief to get the first of two doses.

“I’ve had friends who have had it before, or who have been exposed to it too, so I’ve got to protect myself,” J.D. said.

In addition to flu-like symptoms, monkeypox can present with a painful rash throughout the body. J.D. said that sparked fear among him and his friends since it’s a potentially more visible disease.

J.D. was able to secure an appointment at Open Door Health, where he receives other care.

Dr. Amy Nunn, RIPHI’s executive director, said there has been an “overwhelming” demand for the vaccine long before eligibility was expanded.

“A lot of people have been asking about vaccine hesitancy, because of COVID, and that’s not what we’re seeing at all,” Nunn told 12 News. “We’re seeing unprecedented demand for this service.”

Nunn said she’s hoping the federal government can increase the state’s share of doses to get more eligible people vaccinated as quickly as possible.

“We want to have an early response,” Nunn said.

“Our response to COVID was too slow,” she added. “We need to respond quickly to this, and that’s why this is so emergent. That’s why this is so important.”

Open Door Health, the Miriam Hospital Infectious Disease Clinic, and Thundermist Health Center have received limited amounts of the monkeypox vaccine, according to the governor’s office. The sites will be contacting existing patients about vaccination.

On Friday and Saturday, the Health Department will hold two community clinics for people who are clinically eligible but unable to get appointments at other sites.

The Health Department noted that the clinics are already full, but eligible residents can sign up for the Vaccine Interest Notification List to be contacted when doses is available.

In addition to being able to make appointments, people can submit their information to RIDOH and/or Open Door Health to be contacted when additional vaccine is available. The Open Door Health list is for both patients and non-patients.