Friday July 29, 2022 | VICTORIA, BC [Updated 3:22 pm]
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc. | Island Social Trends
BC Health has announced that it’s making monkeypox vaccines available to people in British Columbia.
“Although the number of cases in B.C. remains low, some community transmission has been identified,” it was stated in a BC Health news release today.
As of July 27, 2022, there were 61 cases of monkeypox in British Columbia. This includes three cases in Fraser Health, 54 in Vancouver Coastal Health and four in Island Health (three of those in the South Vancouver Island area). There are currently no cases in Interior Health nor Northern Health.
Nationally, there are 803 cases as of 10 am PDT this morning, as reported by the Public Health Agency of Canada monkeypox page. Most of the cases are in Ontario and Quebec.
Contact tracing, how it spreads:
As part of established communicable disease management practice, local public health authorities are following up via contact tracing with people who have been exposed.
To date, the primary community that is experiencing active cases of monkeypox is among men who have sex with men. Public health agencies in Canada and other western countries are trying not to stigmatize that community, but according to national public health this week over 99 percent of cases are among that community.
BC Health says the monkeypox virus does not spread easily from person-to-person. All identified local transmission has involved prolonged skin-to-skin contact, which is suspected to be the primary way the virus is spread.
The virus is spread by close prolonged contact. Some medical doctors interviewed on national TV say it can be picked up from towels and bedding; they also note that it has been found more often among people who have multiple sex partners.
WHO declared monkeypox health emergency:
On July 23, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a public health emergency of international concern over the global monkeypox outbreak. This ensures that countries work together internationally to manage and stop the outbreak.
“From the beginning, B.C. has been working closely with other Canadian jurisdictions and with the Public Health Agency of Canada to have a co-ordinated approach to the outbreak,” says BC Health today.
Stockpile of smallpox vaccine:
Health Canada maintains a limited stockpile of smallpox vaccine, which is also effective against monkeypox (Imvamune), that is made available through the BC Centre for Disease Control. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has published recommendations for the use of Imvamune.
To date, B.C. has received 14,480 doses of vaccine for outbreak control, including post-exposure prophylaxis. Vaccines are ordered weekly and all doses are distributed to health authorities for administration. As of July 25, 2022, 7,200 doses were administrated to high-risk people.
In May 2020, Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry was excited to note the 40th anniversary of the eradication of smallpox. But the vaccine has remained actively available, now proving to be useful; there was no delay for having to find a vaccine tailored to monkeypox, as the smallpox vaccine works against monkeypox as well.
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in May 2020: “As the world confronts the COVID-19 pandemic, humanity’s victory over smallpox is a reminder of what is possible when nations come together to fight a common health threat.”
Vaccine clinics in Island Health:
In B.C., local public health authorities are identifying contacts or any other high-risk group that are eligible and can benefit from the vaccine. Vaccine clinics are offered in Vancouver Coastal Health, Fraser Health, Island Health and Interior Health, with vaccines prioritized for the Lower Mainland, where most of the infections have occurred.
Monkeypox vaccine appointments are available the week of August 1 in Victoria, Nanaimo & the Comox Valley. Vaccination eligibility is based on where transmission is occurring, says Island Health.
For more information about who is eligible to get a vaccine and how to book an appointment, refer to the local health authority or visit: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/monkeypox
For updates about monkeypox in B.C., visit: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/monkeypox
===== Information about monkeypox (by BC Health):
- Symptoms of monkeypox infection usually appear one to two weeks after exposure but can take anywhere from five to 21 days to appear.
- The disease can occur in two stages, with flu-like symptoms appearing first, followed by a rash, usually with sores or blisters. However, many people only get the rash.
- People are considered to be infectious from when symptoms first appear until the sores crust over, are dry and new skin is visible.
- Most people with monkeypox in B.C. have mild symptoms and do not require any specific interventions.
- Treatment for monkeypox remains supportive and targeted on symptom management.
===== LINKS from BC Health:
- For more information about getting the monkeypox vaccine in Fraser Health, visit: https://priority-fraser-health-vaccinations.myhealthinfo.ca/index.php
- For more information about getting the monkeypox vaccine in Vancouver Coastal Health, visit: http://www.vch.ca/Pages/Monkeypox.aspx
- For more information about getting the monkeypox vaccine in Island Health, visit: https://www.islandhealth.ca/learn-about-health/diseases-conditions/monkeypox
- For more information about getting the monkeypox vaccine in Interior Health, visit: https://www.interiorhealth.ca/health-and-wellness/immunization-and-vaccines/monkeypox-immunizations
- For more information about getting the monkeypox vaccine in Northern Health, call: 250 645-8983