Monkeypox

Last Updated: September 20, 2022

Although anyone can get Monkeypox, due to limited availability of vaccine, vaccines are currently being offered only to those most at risk right now. During the current outbreak, gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men have been impacted the most, especially those with new or multiple sexual partners. The Alberta vaccine eligibility criteria below are similar to those used by other provinces and are based on evidence about the way the virus is currently spreading in Alberta, Canada, and around the world

Preventative Vaccine Eligibility

As of August 10, Albertans 18 and older, who self-identify as meeting the below outlined eligibility criteria can book monkeypox immunization appointments in nine cities across the province, including Calgary, Edmonton, Edson, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer and. St. Paul.

If you meet this criteria, please call 1-866-301-2668, to book an appointment for immunization.

Note: Individuals living in a First Nations community also have the option of contacting a nurse at their local health centre to arrange for the vaccine.

Alberta residents 18 years and older who are now eligible for the monkeypox vaccine include:

  • Trans-, cis-gender or two-spirit individuals who self-identify as belonging to the gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM) community and who meet at least one of the following criteria:
    • Have received a recent (i.e. in the last 6 months) diagnosis of STI
    • Are planning to have, or in the past 90 days had, sex outside of a mutually monogamous relationship
    • Have attended venues for sexual contact within the past 90 days (e.g. bath houses, sex clubs) or may be planning to, or who work/volunteer in these settings
  • Any sexual contacts of the individuals described above.
  • Staff and volunteers in a social setting or venue or event where sexual activities between men (individuals described above) may take place.

Additional Information

Monkeypox is a rare pox-like disease that can be acquired by humans, although the chances of this are extremely low. Monkeypox usually occurs sporadically in forested parts of Central and West Africa through transmission from animal bites or contact with body fluids from infected animals. In the last few weeks, cases have been reported from Quebec, as well as the U.K., Spain, Portugal, and the U.S.

There are 39 confirmed isolated cases in Alberta at this time. The risk of infection to the public is currently low.

Monkeypox does not spread easily between people, but spread can occur by contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, or items that have recently been contaminated with fluids or sores (clothing, bedding, etc.). It is also possible to get sick from respiratory droplets after spending a long time close to someone who is infected.

Those at greatest risk are those who have had sexual contact with a new partner in the last month and who have a rash in the genital/perianal area, especially if they have a travel history outside the province in the month before illness onset.

It is important to practice safer sex and to promote sexual health, not just for this rare disease, but all the reasons why safer sexual health behaviors improve overall health.

If you believe you have been in close prolonged contact with someone with monkeypox or are experiencing monkeypox symptoms such as fever, rash and swollen lymph nodes, please self-isolate and call 811 or your primary care physician.

Testing is available for those who have symptoms of Monkeypox. If you think you may have Monkeypox, you can call HealthLink at 811 or your healthcare provider for advice. Many Sexual and Reproductive Clinics can provide testing for Monkeypox, along with testing for more common infections. Visit ahs.ca/srh to find a clinic near you. Regardless of the where you are seeking care, you should advise the healthcare provider in advance, so that precautions can be put in place.

To learn more visit the The Public Health Agency of Canada.