Monkeypox vaccine available to eligible NWT residents

Public Service Announcement

Yellowknife — September 26, 2022

Immunization against Monkeypox is now available to eligible NWT residents.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends the Imvamune® vaccine be offered to people who may have, or have had, high-risk exposures to the rare, viral disease.

Imvamune® is approved by Health Canada for immunization against smallpox, as well as Monkeypox and other related diseases in adults 18 years of age and older. It is not a treatment for Monkeypox. The vaccine is used to protect against infection and disease.

Monkeypox can be transmitted from infected animals to humans, or spread human-to-human, usually by skin-to-skin contact with lesions, blisters, or rashes that develop from the disease. A mother can pass the virus to her baby via the placenta or during childbirth, causing congenital Monkeypox. The virus also can spread through prolonged contact with objects or fabrics such as clothing, bedding, or towels that have been used by someone with Monkeypox. 

Flu-like symptoms typically appear from 5-21 days after exposure along with a skin rash that may be present anywhere on the body.  In the current outbreak, rash has been most commonly found around the mouth, genital or anorectal (bum) areas. In most cases the symptoms of Monkeypox go away on their own within a few weeks, however complications can develop.

Recent global outbreaks are among people who identify as gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, however, anyone can be exposed during close contact with a positive case. In the current outbreak in Canada, intimate sexual contact is the primary mode of spread..

To date there have been no identified cases of Monkeypox in the NWT. Vaccination is being offered in both pre-exposure and post-exposure situations where high risk exposures have occurred.

The vaccine is in limited supply worldwide including in Canada. National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) and the Government of the Northwest Territories is recommending two doses of Imvamune® 28 days apart as pre-exposure vaccination for eligible residents to reduce the risk of Monkeypox transmission for individuals who identify as — two-spirited, non-binary, transgender, or those who have sexual partners in the gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men community, AND at least one of the following applies:

  • Diagnosed with a bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the past year (e.g., chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis)
  • Recently had two or more sexual partners or may be planning to
  • Recently attended venues for sexual contact (e.g., bathhouses, sex clubs) or may be planning to, or who work/volunteer in these settings
  • Recently had anonymous/casual sex (e.g., using hook up apps) or may be planning to
  • Are a sexual contact of an individual who engages in sex work

Anyone who engages in sex work or may be planning to, should also be vaccinated with two doses of monkeypox vaccine.. Household members and sexual contacts of people listed above should contact a health care provider to see if they should be vaccinated.

People who have a known exposure or close contact with someone who has Monkeypox should get vaccinated, ideally within four days, but can be given the vaccine up to 14 days later.  Those exposed, who have ongoing risk factors for further transmission should also receive a second dose of monkeypox vaccine 28 days after the first dose.  A healthcare provider will discuss your risk with you.

If you develop Monkeypox symptoms, isolate at home away from others, and contact your local health centre or health care provider to be assessed and tested for the virus.

If you have previously been diagnosed with monkeypox you do NOT need to be vaccinated regardless of your exposure or risk of exposure.  You will have acquired a natural immunity to the disease.

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For media requests, please contact:

Umesh Sutendra

Communications Specialist

Department of Health and Social Services

Government of the Northwest Territories

(867) 767-9052 ext. 49036