Quebec to start vaccinating against monkeypox as cases climb to 25

Quebec will begin vaccinating some people with a smallpox vaccine, to help control the spread of monkeypox in the Montreal area.

Quebec public health director Dr. Luc Boileau said Thursday that 25 cases of monkeypox have now been confirmed in the province. Fourteen of them are in the city of Montreal, although all the cases are linked to the greater Montreal area.

About 20 to 30 other cases are also being investigated, Boileau said.

Boileau stressed that the spread of monkeypox was “a serious situation,” but said it was not sweeping through the population like COVID-19, for example.

“We don’t expect a rapid, huge number of cases,” he explained. “That’s why we think it can be eradicated.”

To that end, Boileau said the smallpox vaccine — which hasn’t been routinely offered in Canada for decades — will be offered to people at high risk of contracting the disease, such as those who have been in contact with cases. confirmed.

Boileau said the province has access to hundreds of ready-to-use doses, but vaccination will only take place after a recommendation from public health. It will not be open to the general public.

Dr. Caroline Quach, chair of Quebec’s immunization committee, said vaccination within four days of contact has a “very good” chance of preventing the disease.

The aim will be to vaccinate targeted individuals within those four days, but vaccination can be offered up to 14 days later, she said.

WATCH | How ‘ring vaccination’ could help contain the spread of monkeypox in Canada

How ‘ring vaccination’ could help contain the spread of monkeypox in Canada

“Ring vaccination,” rather than the mass vaccination used for COVID-19, is the likely way to contain the spread of monkeypox in Canada, says Dr. Samir Gupta.

Currently, the “vast majority” of cases are adult men who have had sex with men, Boileau said. There is a case involving a minor, said Boileau, who has gone to school since the exposure.

But the virus needs close and prolonged contact to spread, Quach said, “so it’s not like an entire class will suddenly be affected,” as it would be with more communicable diseases like the coronavirus. .

Boileau clarified that the government is “not in a community alert situation” regarding monkeypox.

Montreal’s medical officer of health in charge of health emergencies and infectious diseases, Dr. Geneviève Bergeron, added that contact tracing and isolation are also used to prevent the spread.