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Starting Sunday, June 12, Bathhouse Workers Among First To Be Offered Monkeypox Vaccine In Toronto

Beginning tomorrow, Toronto Public Health (TPH) will hold the first of a series of community-based vaccination clinics to curb the spread of the monkeypox virus.

Working together with the Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance (GMSH) and other community partners, vaccination clinics will be held over the coming weeks to offer protection to individuals who have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus, those with high risk contacts and those who have a higher risk of being exposed to the virus. A clinic on Sunday, June 12 will vaccinate employees in Toronto bathhouses.

As of Friday, June 10, there were 11 confirmed cases in Toronto. Monkeypox spreads through contact with body fluids such as fluids from the monkeypox lesions, contaminated clothing or bedding, or through respiratory droplets following prolonged face-to-face contact. It can also be spread through bites or scratches from infected animals. Anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, can spread monkeypox through contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores or by sharing contaminated items. However, during this outbreak, in a number of countries, gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men have been affected.

Yesterday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) released interim guidance  on use of the Imvamune vaccine in the context of monkeypox outbreaks. Imvamune was approved by Health Canada in 2020 against smallpox, monkeypox and other related orthopoxviruses. It is approved for individuals 18 years old and older.

Monkeypox symptoms include a lesion or rash, fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion, swollen lymph nodes. A rash or lesion will often appears within a few days after symptoms begin, starting on the face and spreading to other parts of the body. Most people recover from monkeypox on their own without treatment. Vaccination is being offered to protect against monkeypox illness.

TPH is asking residents who have these signs and symptoms to report them to their health care provider as soon as possible. Close contacts of people suspected or confirmed to have a monkeypox infection are advised to self-monitor for symptoms for 21 days after their last exposure. If symptoms develop, they should self-isolate, seek care and get tested. Health care providers are reminded that individuals suspected of monkeypox infection must be reported to Public Health Ontario. As with many other diseases spread through close contact, people can lower their risk by maintaining physical distance, frequent hand washing and respiratory hygiene, including masking. Common household disinfectants can kill the monkeypox virus.

TPH continues to follow up with anyone thought to be exposed to monkeypox. TPH also continues to work closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada, Public Health Ontario, and the Ontario Ministry of Health. TPH has communicated with local physicians to provide information on symptoms, laboratory testing and diagnosis, infection control precautions, treatment and reporting requirements for monkeypox.

More information about monkeypox is available on the City of Toronto’s Monkeypox webpage. TPH continues to update the number of confirmed, negative and cases under investigation every day from Monday to Friday by 3 p.m.

Residents can also find information about monkeypox on the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website  or through Toronto Public Health’s Health Connections online or by calling 416-338-7600.

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