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Health unit awaits further monkeypox vaccine supply

The Thunder Bay District Health Unit has administered most of a small initial delivery of monkeypox vaccine doses.
Monkeypox vaccine (2)

THUNDER BAY – The majority of the local supply of the monkeypox vaccine has been administered, just a day after public health authorities offered the first vaccine clinic to protect those at highest risk from the virus.

The Thunder Bay District Health Unit had administered nearly 40 of the roughly 50 doses of the vaccine it received from the province last week as of Thursday, said medical officer of health Dr. Janet DeMille.

The health unit opened its first monkeypox vaccine clinic on Wednesday.

That minimal supply hasn’t been enough to keep up with initial demand, she reported.

“We find people were actually waiting for it, because the message has already been out there about who’s at high risk,” she said. “People were certainly very happy to see we now have it available here.”

“We’re close to finishing the supply we currently have available, so we might not be able to meet [the demand] right away.”

The health unit has ordered additional supply it hopes to receive as early as next week, though the amount and timing of that supply remains uncertain, she said.

“We do have to keep some aside in case we have a case and have to get out and immunize people who are close contacts,” DeMille added.

There have not yet been any confirmed cases of monkeypox in the Thunder Bay district.

Public Health Ontario was reporting 478 confirmed cases of monkeypox as of Wednesday, with three-quarters in Toronto and all but three involving men.

Fifteen people had been hospitalized and two treated in intensive care for the virus, with no deaths reported so far.

The majority of cases have so far been identified among males who report sexual or intimate contact with other males, though health authorities have emphasized that anyone can get monkeypox. Risk factors include close contact with someone who has a monkeypox rash, sore, or scabs.

The most commonly reported symptoms include a rash, oral/genital lesions, swollen lymph nodes, a headache, a fever, chills, myalgia or fatigue.

Provincial guidelines for eligibility currently include people who self-identify or have sexual partners who self-identify as “belonging to the gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM) community” and also meet one of a number of criteria including having multiple recent sexual partners or receiving a recent STI diagnosis.

Those who believe they are at risk and want to be vaccinated can contact the health unit at (807) 625-5900 or toll-free at 1-888-294-6630.

More information is available online.

The health unit will not be creating a waitlist at this time, DeMille said, but the agency will publicize further availability through community partners including the Rainbow Collective of Thunder Bay.

Vaccination is currently being administered at the health unit’s Balmoral Street location, but it will soon be available through other health providers, DeMille said.


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