The Vaccine-O-Licious Mini Tour: Mpox Edition
Following the success of the Vaccine-O-Licious 18 pageant in May, Project ACHIEVE and Columbia Research Unit partnered with Harlem Pride to launch the annual VOL Mini Tour on Friday, Aug. 25, at the 4West Lounge in Harlem.
Titled "The Vaccine-O-Licious Mini Tour: Mpox Edition," this first installment of the 2023–2024 tour featured drag performance and guest speakers, who highlighted ongoing mpox research and shared information about mpox-related community healthcare resources, such as vaccines and treatments.
Notably, this was the first show under the Vaccine-O-Licious umbrella to focus on a topic outside of HIV vaccine research. It was also the first mini tour event to include Taraye, the newly crowned Mx. Vaccine-O-Licious.
As patrons filed into the 4West Lounge, Project ACHIEVE and CRU welcomed them with a buffet and informational tabling about current mpox studies. After mingling downstairs, attendees made their way to the bar’s main room for a one-hour show.
Jus Jahlisa, the Queen of Vaccine, hosted the evening after opening it with a dazzling lip sync. Taraye performed her debut number as Mx. Vaccine-O-Licious 18, and Stella D’oro (the Queen Mum of Vaccine) closed the show with an mpox-themed mix.
Between drag performances, Dr. Jason Zucker of CRU and Dr. Jorge Soler of Project ACHIEVE spoke on their research and opportunities for participants to enroll in mpox studies. A representative from Ryan Health, Dr. George Dawson, shared information on mpox prevention and treatment resources available to NYC residents. The speeches were followed by a raffle, whose winner took home a smart TV.
With more than eight months to go until the next Vaccine-O-Licious pageant, Project ACHIEVE and CRU are set to organize mini tour stops around NYC throughout the fall, winter and spring. These stops will feature more drag and advocacy for studies, especially those focused on HIV vaccines.