Large Gatherings and Social Events Toolkit for Health Departments

Who should use this toolkit? Health departments

What is this toolkit about? This toolkit serves as a ready-to-use resource on how to promote monkeypox prevention strategies for large gathering events.

How should I use this toolkit? Messages and actions are included for use before, during, and after an event. You can share these materials with event organizers and through your platforms and channels as-is, or you may rebrand them.

Large gathering and social events are great opportunities for people to connect and enjoy themselves. It’s also an important opportunity to provide public health messages to hard-to-reach populations. This toolkit is designed to help organize events in a safe manner and can be a starting point for conversations between local, state, and federal public health authorities as well as event organizers and business owners. The health department can play an important role including acting as a hub to connect people and organizations, offering resources and services, and providing up-to-date information on monkeypox.

CDC Resources for Monkeypox

Access Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) monkeypox print and digital testing, treatment, and prevention materials:

Large gatherings and social events where attendees are crowded together and moving around can lead to close, prolonged, and frequent interactions between people. They may also be associated with behaviors, like meeting new sex partners, that can contribute to the spread of monkeypox.

The decision-making process related to large gatherings should rely on a risk-based approach, tailored to the specifics of the event. In the context of the current outbreak, risks that increase exposure to monkeypox should be considered when planning for the upcoming event. Postponing or cancelling gatherings in areas where monkeypox cases have been identified is not required as a default measure. These events can be used as opportunities for community outreach and education.

Take Steps to Reduce the Spread of Monkeypox

By joining forces with event organizers, local businesses, and other community organizations, the health department can play a key role in reducing the spread of monkeypox and protecting people’s health. Consider the following actions:

Disseminate Accurate Information

  • You can find up-to-date information on monkeypox at cdc.gov/monkeypox.
  • Share monkeypox prevention messages with event organizers before, during, and after their Provide messages and content that is simple and available in relevant languages. Include visual content. For more information, refer to CDC’s Social Gatherings page.

Pre-event:

  • Think about locations and venues where information can be shared, or services offered. Is there one main event? Multiple events over many days? What side events may be taking place? What will attendees be doing when not at the event (e.g., shopping, dining, sightseeing, using public transportation)?
  • Share information with these venues. Ask hotels to display information or include information in hotel rooms. Include information in registration packets, on registration websites or in email confirmations. Advertise on public transportation. Share information with local businesses.
  • Design and print communication materials like flyers and palm cards. Order materials and equipment needed to set up an information booth or vaccine tent at the event.
  • Hold a town hall event with participating businesses to share the latest data on monkeypox and answer questions. Consider holding information sessions for different groups of businesses (e.g., hotels/housekeeping, bars/restaurants, commercial sex venues).
  • Notify local healthcare providers about the event and provide a timeframe for when they may expect presentation of monkeypox symptoms in patients. Provide them with care and treatment guidance.
  • Share monkeypox information on health department websites and social media channels.
  • Consider a health department booth/tent location. For example, you may want to choose a location that allows for privacy and limiting stigma. You can set up signage to direct attendees to your booth/tent.
  • Start promoting the health department’s booth, tent, table, etc. at the event starting at least 2-3 weeks before the event to encourage a good turnout. If you have a limited budget, consider social media, as well as flyers and posters, and even local airtime on the radio. If you have a larger budget, consider paid ads on social media, Google, or radio, or print ads in local newspapers or magazines.

During Event:

  • Staff an information booth (or vaccine table) at the event. Have experts on hand to answer questions. Make sure everyone working at your booth/table is prepared with talking points and messages. Also, make sure your team is prepared to answer questions about monkeypox testing, prevention, treatment, vaccines, and how to prevent stigma.
  • Provide eventgoers with materials like flyers and palm cards, as well as condoms and hand sanitizer.
  • Engage and involve event staff and volunteers. Make sure they know where you are located so they can easily direct event participants to you.
  • Make your team comfortable. Consider bringing a Bluetooth speaker to play music and providing water, snacks, and chairs to make sure your team members and booth visitors enjoy the day.
  • Event Booth Logistics
    • Arrive at the event site early to set up your booth. If people will be entering and moving around in your booth or tent, create an easy-to-navigate flow.
    • Send messages to your volunteer staff to remind them of their shift, any location updates, and what they should bring.
    • Have a staffing schedule that includes time slots, roles, and responsibilities.
    • Display materials in a way that is organized and inviting. Note the starting totals of your inventory. At the end of the event, when you count how many are left, you’ll be able to report exactly how many you distributed.
    • If possible, assign one person to orient volunteers as they arrive for their shifts. That person can remind the volunteers of their roles, talking points, and any other important information.
    • If you are tracking the number of individuals you engage with at your booth, using clickers/counters can simplify this.
  • Engaging Attendees
    Here are some suggestions for making the most of your engagement.
    • Introduce yourselves and describe your organization, share messages, and answer questions by providing monkeypox materials (such as palm cards) and information from your organization.
    • Focus on making your interactions personal but also professional. Get to know people. Ask them questions. But remember to respect people’s personal space and privacy.
    • Make your booth both fun and educational. Play music. Make educational games about monkeypox.

Post-event:

  • After the event, provide event organizers with health information and guidance on how to recognize monkeypox symptoms and when to seek medical advice and encourage them to share on their websites, social media accounts, and apps.
  • Share the same information on health department websites and social media accounts.
  • Remind healthcare providers about the event and to be alert to symptoms of monkeypox in their patients. Remind them of proper testing and treatment guidance. Provide a health department liaison to expedite testing and care for any suspected
  • Review what worked and what didn’t. Record lessons learned and recommendations for future events. See the Evaluate your Efforts section of this toolkit.
  • Provide event organizers with information on how their guests can access health services in your area. Also, provide information on how event planners can connect out-of-town guests to health services in the areas where they live.
  • If cases of monkeypox do arise, work with the event organizers and help them notify guests who may have been exposed. If attendees who have been diagnosed with monkeypox are not able to share contact information for their close contacts, advise them to notify their close contacts directly or ask a healthcare provider to do so anonymously.

Collaborate with Others

Pre-event:

  • Engage with organizers of peripheral events, such as parties or club nights; and local businesses, such as hotels, bars, night clubs, saunas, and sex-on-premises venues. Encourage them to share and post monkeypox prevention messages.
  • Where relevant, engage local community-based organizations to provide health information and guidance through their networks.
  • Consider who will attend the event.  Are they mostly local or do they come from across the country or around the world? If eventgoers are traveling from far away, collaborate with national organizations like the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD) to let other health departments from around the US know about an upcoming event in your area. Health departments can then reach out to their local communities around education and vaccination promotion.
  • Events are a good place to collect data from attendees about their knowledge and awareness of monkeypox and engagement in behaviors that increase risk for monkeypox, which can help inform future messages and prevention efforts.

During Event:

  • Share resources with organizers and partners on testing, treatment, and vaccination.

Post-event:

  • Remind healthcare providers to ask patients about attending the event and to be alert to symptoms of monkeypox in their patients. Remind them of proper testing and treatment guidance. Provide a health department liaison to expedite testing and care for any suspected cases.
  • If cases of monkeypox that are associated with the event, work with the event organizers to notify participants about possible exposure. Provide information on where event attendees can go for testing and treatment.

Prevent and Control the Infection

Pre-event:

  • Work with event organizers to ensure they provide sufficient hand-washing facilities and hand sanitizers.
    • Ensure hand-washing facilities are available to participants, that they are located across the venue area, and that information is provided to alert attendees about where they can wash or sanitize their hands.
  • Encourage alcohol-based hand sanitizer at multiple sites across the venue, particularly near toilets and in food courts, or near food trucks.
  • Share cleaning and disinfecting procedures with event organizers. Specific information is available in CDC’s Disinfecting Home and Other Non-Healthcare Settings guidance.

During Event:

  • Recommend event organizers provide a dedicated and private space at event venues for attendees, volunteers, and staff who may start to show symptoms while they are attending the event. Event organizers should secure proper medical assistance for the event.

Post-event:

  • Work with organizers on how to properly clean and disinfect the premises and shared items.

Evaluate your efforts

Consider how you can measure your success and have a plan for evaluation. Try to align your goal with things you can measure, such as the number of people referred to your event booth or to clinical services.

Social Behavioral Information

Collecting information about monkeypox knowledge, awareness, and behaviors can help inform future messages and prevention efforts. Below are some examples of domains for data collection.

  • Demographics
  • Awareness of monkeypox
  • Knowledge about symptoms, testing, treatment, vaccines, etc.
  • Behaviors including engagement in behaviors that increase and decrease risk

Reporting Metrics

Capturing and reporting on your activities can inform efforts. Below are some possible metrics you could report.

  • Number of people engaged
  • Number of materials distributed
  • Number of staff/volunteers on the ground daily
  • Number of tests administered
  • Number of on-site vaccines administered
  • Number of social media engagements
  • Number of partner organizations who visited your booth
  • Anecdotes from attendees

Appendix

Sample Monkeypox Key Messages

Share key messages with event organizers for use before, during, and after an event. Messages can also be shared through health department channels (e.g., website, social media accounts). Check www.cdc.gov/monkeypox for the most up-to-date messaging.

Key Messages – Pre-event:

  • Monkeypox is spreading in the United States. You can protect yourself and other event goers by learning about monkeypox before coming to [event name]. Go to [insert trusted source e.g., cdc.gov/monkeypox] to learn more.
  • The monkeypox virus is spreading mostly through close, intimate contact with someone who has monkeypox.
  • Symptoms of monkeypox may include flu-like illness with fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion, and enlarged lymph nodes. A characteristic rash, which can appear like blisters or pimples, occurs a few days later. Some people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.
  • If you feel sick or have a new or unexplained rash, do not attend [event name], and see a healthcare provider.
  • To help protect you and your community, follow the recommended prevention steps and get vaccinated if you were exposed to monkeypox or are at higher risk of being exposed to monkeypox.

Key Messages – During event:

  • If you notice a new or unexplained rash or other monkeypox symptoms while at [event name], avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with other eventgoers and go directly to [designated private space at event venue where people can go if they start to show symptoms].
  • We hope you are having a great time at [event name]. Remember, if you feel sick or have a new or unexplained rash, talk to a health care provider right away.
    • Symptoms of monkeypox may include flu-like illness with fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion, and enlarged lymph nodes. A characteristic rash, which can appear like blisters or pimples, occurs a few days later. Some people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.
  • Avoid any rash you see on others and consider minimizing skin-to-skin contact.
  • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle, or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
  • Avoid contact with objects (such as eating utensils and cups) and materials (such as clothing or towels) that a person with monkeypox has used.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom.
  • Even if you feel well, here are some ways to reduce your chances of being exposed to monkeypox if you are sexually active:
    • Take a temporary break from activities that increase exposure to monkeypox.
    • Limit your number of sex partners to reduce your likelihood of exposure.
    • Talk with your partner about any monkeypox symptoms and be aware of any new or unexplained rash or lesion on either of your bodies. If you or your partner has or recently had monkeypox symptoms or you have a new or unexplained rash anywhere on your body, do not have sex and see a healthcare provider. In some cases, symptoms may be mild, and some people may not even know they have monkeypox.
    • Be aware that monkeypox can also spread through respiratory secretions with close, face-to-face contact.
    • Remember to wash your hands, fetish gear, sex toys, and any fabrics (bedding, towels, clothes) after having sex. Learn more about infection control.

Remember to include information on how participants should access health services if they think they have monkeypox symptoms.

Key Messages – Post-event:

  • We hope you had a great time at [event name]. Remember, if you feel sick or have a new or unexplained rash, talk to a health care provider right away.
  • Symptoms of monkeypox may include flu-like illness with fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion, and enlarged lymph nodes. A characteristic rash, which can appear like blisters or pimples, occurs a few days later. Some people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.
  • If you experience monkeypox symptoms, talk to your close contacts right away. Think about the people you have had close, skin-to-skin, or sexual contact during the last 21 days, including people you met through dating apps.
  • If a partner contacts you and tells you that you may have been exposed to monkeypox, monitor your body for monkeypox symptoms and be aware of any new or unexplained rash or lesion on either of your bodies. If you have a new or unexplained rash anywhere on your body, do not have sex and see a healthcare provider.
  • Discuss vaccination options with your health care provider after known or presumed exposure to someone with monkeypox [i.e., post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)], ideally within 4 days.