Public Health hosts free monkeypox vaccine clinics

York Region Public Health is hosting free monkeypox vaccines clinics, including several in Markham, for people who may be at higher risk of infection.

Human monkeypox is a rare and infectious disease caused by the monkeypox virus. Though it’s typically found in parts of Central and West Africa, cases have recently been found in many countries around the world, including Canada.

The risk of infection is low for the general population. Monkeypox doesn’t generally spread easily between people and when it does, it’s through close contact, such as people you live with or during intimate contact through contact with body fluids, such as fluids from monkeypox sores. More rarely, it can be passed on through contaminated clothing or bedding or through respiratory droplets following prolonged face-to-face contact. It can also be spread through bites or scratches from infected animals.

Monkeypox is considered most infectious from the start of the first sores until scabs have fallen off and new skin is present. Some cases may be infectious when symptoms like fever, muscle and body aches, and headache appear. The incubation period is typically six to 13 days but can range from five to 21 days.

Monkeypox is not limited to any specific group. Infection is usually mild and goes away on its own. Most people recover in two to four weeks, but some people experience more serious illness. If you think you have monkeypox, isolate yourself and contact your primary care provider, who will make a diagnosis based on your symptoms, a lab test – such as a swab of your rash or throat or a blood test – and other risk factors, like exposure to someone with monkeypox.

Public Health will identify and directly notify contacts of monkeypox cases. Anyone who’s been in contact with a person infected with monkeypox should monitor themselves for symptoms for 21 days. Trans- or cis-gender individuals who self-identify as belonging to the gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men (gbMSM) are eligible for a free monkeypox pre-exposure vaccination if they’re 18 years and older and meet one of the criteria found here.

In Markham, clinics will be held Friday, Sept. 2 and Monday, Sept. 19 at the Markham Sexual Health Clinic at 4261 Hwy. 7, first floor. Walk-in hours are from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Each appointment is provided one-to-one in a private room.  Click here to find information about how to book an appointment and see what dates and times are available. For general inquiries, contact Access York at 1-877-464-9675.

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