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Monkeypox vaccine eligibility expanded

MVT Health Minister Jason Copping May 17, 2022
Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping during a May 17 press conference. Copping announced increased access to the Monkeypox vaccine July 28. Govt. of Alberta YouTube/Screenshot

The provincial government has expanded monkeypox vaccine eligibility starting today (July 28), officials said.

Albertans age 18 or older who meet the eligibility criteria for targeted prevention prior to exposure can now get the Imvamune vaccine, said Minister of Health Jason Copping.

“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 Copping. 

“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.”

Monkeypox is a disease that is caused by infection with Monkeypox virus.

Symptoms can develop five to 21 days after exposure to the virus and generally begin with fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, back pain and exhaustion

Within one to three days after the fever starts, a rash may start on the face and then spread elsewhere on the body. In some cases, the rash may occur without flu-like symptoms or flu-like symptoms may occur after the rash appears. 

Imvamune (smallpox and monkeypox vaccine) has been authorized in Canada for adults who are 18 years and older and who are determined to be at high risk for exposure to the virus. 

Alberta has been providing Imvamune to close contacts of a confirmed monkeypox case after exposure since June 7.

“Although anyone can catch the monkeypox virus through close physical contact, during the current outbreak, gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men have been impacted the most, especially those with new or multiple sexual partners,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health.

“Those eligible for the monkeypox vaccine should consider getting a dose and at the same time take other recommended measures to reduce the risk of exposure.”

The monkeypox vaccine will be made available to eligible individuals, starting in Edmonton and Calgary where all confirmed cases to date have been located, she said, noting as more vaccine becomes available over the coming weeks, vaccine availability will expand to other centres in the province.

Beginning July 28, Alberta residents 18 years and older eligible for the monkeypox vaccine will 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., bath houses, sex clubs) or may be planning to, or who work/volunteer in these settings.
  • Any sexual contacts of the individuals described above.
  • Staff and volunteers in a social setting or venue or event where sexual activities between men (individuals described above) may take place.

Officials say close contacts of people suspected or confirmed to have a monkeypox infection are advised to self-monitor for 21 days after their last exposure and if symptoms develop, they should self-isolate, seek care and get tested.

Due to the limited vaccine availability, anyone who is eligible at this time and is interested in receiving the monkeypox vaccine must call Health Link at 1-866-301-2668 to review eligibility and book an appointment.