Vaccines for monkeypox are now available to every eligible Albertan looking for one.
As of Wednesday (Aug. 10), eligible Albertans aged 18 and older can now receive a monkeypox vaccine to prevent the virus from spreading. Monkeypox is endemic to Central and West Africa but has recently spread to regions it hasn’t been seen in before, such as Canada.
The monkeypox virus is related to the smallpox virus but typically causes less severe illness. As of Thursday, there have been 16 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Alberta.
Previously, the vaccine was only available in Calgary and Edmonton; however, coverage has now expanded to other communities, such as Edson, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer and St. Paul.
“With the elevated risk of contracting the monkeypox virus in some segments of the population, every effort should be made to prevent it from spreading, including getting vaccinated if eligible,” said premier Jason Kenney.
“Anyone experiencing symptoms, such as fever, swollen glands, sores or a rash, is reminded to self-isolate and get the necessary care from a health-care provider.”
While anybody can catch the monkeypox virus through close physical contact, gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men have been impacted the most. To help reduce the risk of transmission, eligible groups are encouraged to consider a dose and take other recommended precautions to minimise the risk of exposure.
Alberta residents 18 years and older eligible for the monkeypox vaccine include:
- Transgender, cisgender or two-spirit individuals who self-identify as belonging to the gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men community and who meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Have received a recent (in the last six months) diagnosis of a sexually transmitted infection.
- Are planning to have, or in the past 90 days had, sex outside of a mutually monogamous relationship.
- Have attended venues for sexual contact within the past 90 days (e.g., bathhouses, sex clubs) or may be planning to.
- Any sexual contacts of the individuals described above.
- Staff and volunteers in a social setting, venue, or event where sexual activities between men (individuals described above) may occur.
Close contacts of people suspected or confirmed to have a monkeypox infection may also be eligible for post-exposure immunisation. Immunisation is recommended up to 14 days, ideally within four days, after exposure to help prevent illness.
Close contacts are also advised to self-monitor for 21 days after their last exposure. Call 811 for further information.