BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), British Columbia's (B.C.) regional health authorities, and partners like Health Initiative for Men (HIM) are reminding people who are eligible for the mpox (monkeypox) vaccine to get vaccinated now, ahead of Pride season and summer activities, including travel.
While the 2022 mpox outbreak has been declared over, there is potential for new cases in B.C. The virus has the potential to be reintroduced locally at large gatherings like Pride events or could be acquired while travelling. Since 2022, there have been 199 confirmed cases of mpox in B.C.
Imvamune® vaccine is available to British Columbians at the highest risk of contracting mpox. It is given as a two-dose vaccine. To date, more than 27,500 vaccine doses have been administered, most as first doses. Vaccination has been successful in controlling the outbreak of mpox and bringing case numbers down.
“We had an excellent response to the vaccine campaign last summer, and we saw a dramatic decrease in the number of mpox cases,” said Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, Deputy Chief Medical Health Officer for Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH). “However, most people only received a single dose, and we’d really like everyone to complete their series with a second dose of Imvamune for stronger, longer-lasting protection.”
To help promote vaccination, Health Initiative for Men has launched a new campaign to promote vaccination. It Takes 2 reinforces the message that a complete vaccine series requires two doses. People who have not yet been vaccinated for mpox and those who only received their first dose are at higher risk of getting mpox if exposed. The campaign is appearing on transit, dating apps and social media.
“Estimates of vaccine effectiveness vary but two doses provide about 90 per cent protection against mpox,” says Dr. Monika Naus, Medical Director of Immunization Programs and Vaccine Preventable Diseases Service for the BCCDC. “If you have only had a single dose, you should get your second dose for optimal protection.”
No vaccine is 100 per cent effective and even if you have been vaccinated, you can develop symptoms. People who have been vaccinated are less likely to experience severe symptoms.
“While vaccination has been very successful in reducing cases in B.C., it is still possible to be exposed to the virus locally or while travelling,” says Dr. Mayank Singal, Physician Epidemiologist with BCCDC’s Public Health Response team. “If you have been exposed to mpox and develop symptoms, seek medical attention so you can be tested as soon as possible.”
Two-Spirit and transgender people and cisgender males who self-identify as belonging to the gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men community and at least one of the following:
- Has sex with more than one partner,
- Has sex with a partner who has more than one partner,
- Has casual sex (e.g. cruising),
- Engages in sex work as a worker or client.
Appointments are available at select pharmacies and community clinics:
People who have received two doses or who had an mpox infection do not require another vaccine. Booster doses may be required in the future should mpox transmission continue into 2024.
The BC Centre for Disease Control, a part of the Provincial Health Services Authority, provides public health leadership through surveillance, detection, treatment, prevention and consultation services. The Centre provides diagnostic and treatment services for people with diseases of public health importance, and analytical and policy support to all levels of government and health authorities. The BCCDC also provides health promotion and prevention services to reduce the burden of chronic disease, preventable injury and environmental health risks. For more, visit www.bccdc.ca or follow us on Twitter @CDCofBC. The Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) provides specialized health care services and programs to communities across British Columbia, the territories of many distinct First Nations. We are grateful to all the First Nations who have cared for and nurtured this land for all time, including the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), and səlil̓w̓ətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations on whose unceded and ancestral territory our head office is located. We work in partnership with other B.C. health authorities and the provincial government to deliver province-wide solutions that improve the health of British Columbians. For more information, visit www.phsa.ca or follow us @PHSAofBC. Health Initiative for Men (HIM) is a nonprofit society that aims to strengthen the health and well-being in communities of self-identified GBQ men and gender diverse people in BC. HIM offers a full spectrum of health-based programming and services to meet the sexual, mental, physical and social health needs of communities of self-identified GBQ men and gender diverse people in BC. Visit checkhimout.ca/mpox for more information
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