N.W.T. issued limited supply of vaccines used for monkeypox

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The Government of Canada has confirmed at least one or more cases of monkey pox in Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick to date.  (Dado Ruvic/Reuters - image credit)
The Government of Canada has confirmed at least one or more cases of monkey pox in Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick to date. (Dado Ruvic/Reuters - image credit)

Imvamune, the vaccine used to treat and help prevent monkeypox, is available from a federal stockpile but it's primarily being doled out to regions in the country with confirmed outbreaks.

With no confirmed cases in the territory, the N.W.T. has been given a shorter supply.

The territorial government says with a limited number of doses, the health department is administering the vaccine only under certain circumstances.

In an email, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Services wrote that, "At this time, doses are reserved for those who are identified as close contacts of probable or confirmed cases of monkeypox."

The department said that in rare cases, healthcare providers may provide a pre-exposure vaccination if an individual indicates they will be traveling to an outbreak area and plans on participating in high-risk activities.

Monkeypox causes flu-like symptoms and skin lesions, and spreads through close contact. Men who have sex with men are at a disproportionate risk of contracting the virus.

The government is following guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) which states that the use of the vaccine, Imvamune, is recommended after a high-risk exposure to a probable or confirmed case of monkeypox, or for those who have been in a setting where a monkeypox outbreak has occurred.

Based on this guidance and the short supply of doses currently available in the N.W.T., the vaccine is only to be used for people in a specified period after experiencing a high-risk exposure.

If more vaccines become available, and the NACI recommendations are updated, the N.W.T. will update its approach. The Department of Health and Social Services adds that officials will continue to monitor the situation.