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Province provides monkeypox vaccine

VICTORIA – The province is 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.

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. There are currently no cases in Interior Health nor Northern Health.

As part of established communicable disease management practice, local public health authorities are following up via contact tracing with people who have been exposed.

On July 23, the World Health Organization 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.

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.

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 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.

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

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