Get vaccinated against mpox, public health urges people at risk after 4 reported cases in 1 day
Those at risk should get 2 doses of vaccine, Toronto Public Health says
The City of Toronto is urging people at risk of catching mpox to get vaccinated as soon as possible after reports of four new cases of the viral illness over 24 hours last Friday.
In a news release on Wednesday, Toronto Public Health (TPH) said those at risk for mpox, previously known as monkeypox, should get two doses of the vaccine Imvamune.
"Vaccination remains the best way to protect against severe outcomes from mpox," Dr. Eileen de Villa, medical officer of health, said in the release.
"As the virus continues to circulate, it is important for at-risk groups to complete a two-dose vaccination series as soon as they are able. We continue to work together with community partners who enable greater access to at-risk groups."
TPH said it is encouraging people who are eligible for the vaccine but have not been vaccinated to get their first dose at any city-run immunization clinic as soon as possible. People who have had one dose can get a second 28 days later.
The public health unit said it is also encouraging people at risk who are planning to travel in the near future to get vaccinated before leaving. It said the vaccine is most effective after two weeks.
"Anyone can get mpox, but during the current outbreak, gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men have been most affected," TPH said in the release.
Dane Griffiths, director of the Gay Men's Sexual Health Alliance, said it's important to slow the spread of mpox.
"After a period of no reported mpox cases in Ontario, four new cases in a single day is concerning," Griffiths said.
"Last summer, our community mobilized, got a first vaccine dose, and slowed the spread of mpox. Let's finish what we started and get the second vaccine dose, especially before travelling this winter."
Vaccine is free, no OHIP card required
TPH said the vaccine is free, an OHIP card is not required to get a dose, walk-ins are available if there is capacity and appointments can be booked online.
TPH defines mpox as a "rare viral illness that spreads from person-to-person through contact with infected lesions, skin blisters, body fluids or respiratory secretions."
The public health unit said mpox can also be transmitted by contact with materials contaminated with the virus, such as clothing and bedding, and through bites and scratches from infected animals.
Symptoms can begin five to 21 days after being exposed and include fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion and swollen lymph nodes, followed by a rash or blisters.
With help from the alliance, TPH said it will hold a drop-in mpox vaccination clinic for people 18 and older at The 519, located at 519 Church St., on Monday, Feb. 27, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
An OHIP card and appointments are not required. Vaccinations will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis.