Manitoba reopens monkeypox vaccination reservations – Winnipeg Free Press
Manitoba is refusing to reveal how much “scarce” monkeypox vaccine it has, even though it announced it had reopened appointments after abruptly halting them earlier this week.
Only men who have sex with men are currently eligible to be vaccinated against monkeypox in Manitoba, and no cases of the virus have been recorded in the province amid a global outbreak that has prompted calls for a faster local vaccination campaign.
The province added more appointment times on Thursday afternoon for vaccinations scheduled to be given starting next week, and will report the number of doses given on a weekly basis going forward, the provincial director of public health, Dr. Brent Roussin, during a virtual conference. press conference which was his first public appearance since July 20.
The vaccination is offered to people who identify as gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, and who meet one of the following criteria:
• Have been diagnosed with chlamydia, gonorrhea and/or syphilis within the past two months;
• Having had two or more sexual partners in the past 21 days;
• have frequented places of sexual contact or plan to do so;
• had anonymous sex in the last 21 days or plan to have sex;
• Or engaging in sex work or planning to do so, either as a worker or as a client.
People who are in close contact with someone with monkeypox are also eligible for post-exposure vaccination and should contact their local public health unit to schedule an injection.
Because it’s a “relatively scarce resource,” most of Canada’s Imvamune vaccine supply has been sent to provinces that already have widespread cases, and Manitoba will keep its own numbers. supply secrets, Roussin said.
“At this time, on the number of doses we receive, we are not going to get involved in reporting,” he said. “We got a lot of doses, we scheduled clinics and allocated doses accordingly, and as you saw, these had a very rapid demand for this, so we immediately decided to get more vaccines in the jurisdiction.”
He suggested a lack of supply was the reason appointments stopped just hours after Manitoba on Monday expanded eligibility to people who have not yet been exposed to monkeypox but who are most at risk of being infected. Currently, most reported cases involve gay or bisexual men.
The virus is mainly spread through prolonged physical contact – including sex – but is not a sexually transmitted infection. Anyone can be infected, although the current risk is low for the general population in Canada.
Vaccine eligibility is not changing in Manitoba, although more appointments are opening up, and Roussin said there are no plans to make the vaccine available in doctors’ offices or pharmacies. . The vaccine is available in all public health regions, and eligible Manitobans outside of Winnipeg are encouraged to contact their local public health unit.
Bren Dixon, coordinator of the Sexuality Education Resource Center of Manitoba, said it’s no surprise first appointments are filling up so quickly. The queer community tends to be well-connected nationally and very “pandemic aware,” Dixon said, noting that many grassroots organizations — including Sunshine House, which hosted a webinar on the subject last week – have been educating people about monkeypox for several months.
“Queer people have a long history, especially post-HIV, of caring for each other and being health conscious, and communicating when things are available with each other,” Dixon said, who was able to make an appointment for a vaccine after raising an alarm. , noting that it is not so easy for all those at risk.
Wider access to vaccines at the community level would help, he said, especially given that some men who have sex with men have not been out and will not go to a public health clinic. Cities like Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, which have already seen significant transmission of monkeypox, have held pop-up clinics in locations aimed at gay men.
Will Franklin has secured an appointment for the vaccine early next week after bookings resumed on Thursday. “like second-class citizens.
Only a handful of doses were provided to the province starting in June, when eligibility was limited to people who had likely previously been exposed to someone with monkeypox. The province has been criticized for not expanding eligibility earlier to get ahead of viral spread.
Now there are calls for government and public health leaders to be more transparent about Manitoba’s supply level and future deployment plans, including its plan for second doses, which are recommended 28 days. after the first.
Appointments for the second dose are not currently booked.
Both the NDP and the Liberals have called on the government to improve its communication.
“The Stefanson government is keeping people in the dark. If they don’t have enough monkeypox vaccine, they need to be honest about it and launch a strong communications campaign to fight the stigma and protect Manitobans,” Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said Thursday.
“Clearly there is a breakdown here.”– Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont
“It is clear that there is a breakdown here. All the money we now invest in prevention, we will save by preventing disease, misery and avoiding health costs and business costs. We know there are challenges with access to vaccines, so if we can’t get vaccines, what is public health going to do instead? »
NDP health critic Uzoma Asagwara, who uses non-binary pronouns, said he heard some people worry about not being able to access the vaccine. The lack of proactive information from the government on monkeypox is “inexcusable”, they said.
“Many of the questions I get from people in my constituency and more broadly across the province could be very easily answered if the government just communicated with them,” Asagwara said, describing it as an opportunity to learn from the community. COVID-19 pandemic.
Asked about COVID lessons Manitoba can apply to monkeypox, Roussin said it’s important to identify groups most at risk without stigmatizing them. Due to the spread of the virus, he advised people to consider limiting their sexual partners, especially anonymous partners.
The doctor also recommended that people avoid skin-to-skin contact with people who are showing symptoms, maintain good hand hygiene, regularly clean frequently touched objects, refrain from sharing personal items and d Avoid touching the bedding or linens of a person diagnosed or suspected of having monkeypox.
People without internet access can call Health Links at 204-788-8200 or toll-free at 1-888-315-9257 to schedule an appointment, or contact their local public health unit.