Thunder Bay

Monkeypox vaccine will be available in Thunder Bay region this month, beginning with high-risk individuals

Some Thunder Bay area residents will soon be able to get vaccinated against monkeypox, although there are no confirmed cases of the virus in the region yet.

Ontario's case numbers rise to 423, but none reported in Thunder Bay region so far

Thunder Bay District Health Unit Medical Officer of Health Janet DeMille said there are no confirmed cases of monkeypox in the Thunder Bay region. (Logan Turner / CBC)

Some people in Thunder Bay will soon be able to get vaccinated against monkeypox, although there are no confirmed cases of the virus in the region yet.

"A couple of tests have been done, but they were not monkeypox," said Thunder Bay District Health Unit Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janet DeMille. "So that is very reassuring. We continue to work with a lot with the province on how to understand the transmission."

As of Tuesday, there were 423 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Ontario, according to Public Health Ontario. The agency's latest report says most of the cases — nearly 78 per cent — were reported in Toronto.

Almost all of the people affected are male, with only two cases reported in female patients. Public Health Ontario says the average age of confirmed cases is just under 36 years old.

DeMille said the Thunder Bay health unit expects to receive doses of a monkeypox vaccine soon.However, she added, it will likely be a small amount to start, and will only be available to high-risk groups.

Solid update on COVID-19 booster 

Meanwhile, DeMille said the TBDHU is seeing good uptake on second doses of the COVID-19 booster.

"Certainly, we continue to encourage those who are at greater risk, including those people who are ... over the age of 60, and anybody who is sort of immunocompromised or [has] underlying health issues," DeMille said. "We have had many people come forward and that's really nice to see."

Uptake among people aged 18-59 has been slower, DeMille said.

"There is benefit in terms of adding more protection for those individuals," she said. "But because they're younger and maybe less likely to experience severe illness, then there may be sort of overall less benefit."

However, DeMille noted a new vaccine that specifically targets the Omicron variant may be available in September.

"It will start with those that are at higher risk, older folks and long-term care homes, for example," she said. "But at this time, we don't have actual confirmation of of actual dates."

DeMille said as of mid-July, most active COVID-19 cases in the Thunder Bay region were the BA.5 variant, which is a subvariant of Omicron.