COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — As monkeypox cases are on the rise in Franklin County, one of the largest LGBTQ+ healthcare providers has been denied direct access to the vaccine by the federal government.

Equitas Health said they applied for direct access to the monkeypox vaccine, after already providing hundreds of vaccines to those most at risk throughout Ohio. Now, Equitas Health officials are saying the government made the wrong decision.

Nick Saltsman, the Chief Pharmacy Officer at Equitas health, said their goal has always been to stay ahead of the spread of the monkeypox virus.

“We’ve actually administered more monkeypox vaccines than any other health center in the state of Ohio,” Saltsman said. “And, as the largest LGBTQ+ health provider in the state, we are very uniquely positioned to really help out the communities that are most affected by monkeypox.”

Saltsman said they were alerted last week that the federal government would be giving out another round of vaccines to healthcare centers across the country. They found out their request was denied on Thursday by the U.S. Health Resource and Service Administration.

“Our thoughts were we would have enough vaccines to roll through the fall season and really vaccinate a lot of people over that period of time,” Saltsman said. “So, we are disappointed that we are not going to have that opportunity.”

HRSA said Equitas is not eligible because it is considered to be a look-alike health care center or a center that qualifies for other government funding. HRSA sent a statement to NBC4 saying:

“HRSA received an allocation of vaccines for distribution to Ryan White HIV/AIDS program (RWHAP) sites only. At this time, FQHCs and look-alikes may work with their states or jurisdictions to get access to the monkeypox vaccine or refer patients to clinics that are receiving and administering doses.”

According to the Ohio Department of Health’s monkeypox dashboard, Franklin County has the second highest number of cases in the state. Saltsman said this extra supply could’ve made a huge difference.

“The goal is to stay ahead of this,” Saltsman said. “We don’t want to wait until it is a big problem and we have more infections throughout the county and throughout the state.”

Up to this point, Equitas has been relying on local and state health departments to provide them the vaccine. Saltsman said they are going to have to continue doing that because it doesn’t look like the government will be changing their mind.

Equitas said not getting this supply does not affect those patients who have received a first dose of this vaccine and are waiting on a second. Those will be provided through the Ohio Department of Health.