More monkeypox vaccine appointments open up in Manitoba, but doses a ‘scarce resource’: top doctor

Eligible Manitobans can start booking appointments for monkeypox vaccine again, public health officials announced Thursday.

The announcement of more appointments comes days after the province said all available appointments had been booked, and nearly a week after eligibility for the vaccine was expanded to certain men who have sex with men.

“Right now we need to focus on those who are at highest risk with this scarce resource, and it’s following suit with other jurisdictions in Canada,” Manitoba Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said in a virtual news conference.

The vaccine is scarce because there are outbreaks in other regions, he said.

The province will begin to track how many vaccines have been administered next week, but Roussin didn’t say how many were given in the first round of appointments, nor how many more will be available in this next round.

WATCH | Dr. Brent Roussin updates Manitobans on the monkeypox vaccine:

Manitoba Public Health gives monkeypox vaccine update

2 hours ago

Duration 20:53

Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin updates Manitobans on the monkeypox vaccine one week after expanding eligibility.

Eligible people can book appointments online effective immediately, using the province’s online booking portal, or by calling Health Links.

So far, no monkeypox cases have been detected in Manitoba.

People who have trouble accessing appointments online can contact their local public health office to discuss options. A list of offices is available on the provincial government’s website.

Anyone can become infected with monkeypox, but currently most infections have been reported among people who self-identify as gay or bisexual and other men who have sex with men, the province said in a news release.

Monkeypox lesions are seen on the skin of an infected rhesus macaque, a type of monkey found throughout Asia. Manitoba public health officials say eligible people can book once again book appointments for the monkeypox vaccine. (Journal of Veterinary Sciences)

Those people are eligible if they also meet one of these criteria: 

  • Received a diagnosis of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and/or syphilis in the past two months.
  • Had two or more sexual partners in the last 21 days.
  • Visited or are planning to visit locations like bath houses or sex clubs.
  • Had anonymous sex in the past 21 days, or are planning to.
  • Engage in sex work or plan to, either as a worker or a client.

People who are close contacts with someone who has monkeypox are also eligible for vaccination.

Roussin says Manitoba Public Health is working to avoid persecution of men who have sex with men.

“There’s a balance between risk communication and doing whatever we can to avoid stigmatizing those populations,” he said.