A vaccine against the monkeypox virus is now available to select residents of the NWT.
A limited supply of the Imvamune vaccine became available in the NWT on Monday. The vaccine is designed to protect against infection and disease rather than as a treatment.
The virus can transmit from person to person through contact with sores caused by an infection, particularly through sexual activity. Because of this, residents considered at-risk include those in the LGBTQ+ community, or who have recently had casual sex or multiple sexual partners.
In an email to CKLB, Health and Social Services Spokesperson Umesh Sutendra explained the department is targeting these and related populations for vaccination because of their high prevalence of infection. “Based on data from the current monkeypox outbreak in Canada, 98.9% of cases are males (98.5% global outbreak), of which 95% identify as gbMSM [gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men] (96.9%),” he wrote. “Therefore, targeted intervention is key to stemming an outbreak before it reaches all population levels.”
Residents who have been exposed should get vaccinated between 4 and 14 days after exposure. Those who have already been infected do not need to be vaccinated.
There are still no confirmed cases of the monkeypox virus in the Northwest Territories. However, as of Tuesday afternoon there were nearly 1,400 confirmed cases in 9 provinces across the country. No one has died, and 38 people have been hospitalized.
A complete list of residents considered at-risk is available on the website of the Department of Health and Social Services.
With files from Francis Tessier-Burns.