Monkeypox vaccine now available to some NWT residents
The NWT government says specific groups can now receive immunization against monkeypox, several months after health experts confirmed a global outbreak of the disease.
Monkeypox can produce a rash and lesions. There is no specific treatment for the viral disease (though various antivirals are usually offered to support patients), making vaccination all the more important.
However, supplies of the vaccine are limited.
On Monday, the territorial government said the Imvamune vaccine would be provided to the following individuals:
- People who are known close contacts of someone with monkeypox or who have had exposure to the virus responsible.
- People who are engaging in sex work.
- People who “identify as two-spirited, non-binary, transgender, or those who have sexual partners in the gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men community,” and who also either
- have been diagnosed with a bacterial sexually transmitted infection in the past year;
- “recently had two or more sexual partners or may be planning to;”
- recently worked or volunteered at or attended “venues for sexual contact” or may be planning to, which the NWT government said may include bathhouses or sex clubs;
- recently had anonymous or casual sex, or may be planning to; or
- are “a sexual contact of an individual who engages in sex work.”
So far, there have been no reported monkeypox cases in the NWT.
“Flu-like symptoms typically appear from 5-21 days after exposure, along with a skin rash that may be present anywhere on the body,” the territorial government stated.
“In the current outbreak, rash has been most commonly found around the mouth, genital or anorectal areas. In most cases, the symptoms of monkeypox go away on their own within a few weeks. However, complications can develop.
“Recent global outbreaks are among people who identify as gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. However, anyone can be exposed during close contact with a positive case. In the current outbreak in Canada, intimate sexual contact is the primary mode of spread.”
Natural immunity means people previously diagnosed with monkeypox do not require vaccination, the territory stated.
Second doses of the vaccine after 28 days are recommended “for those who may have ongoing risk of exposure and for those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals,” a health authority information sheet added.
Contact an NWT health centre for more information.