Health unit offering monkeypox vaccine at Windsor-Essex PrideFest

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The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit will be offering a pre-exposure monkeypox vaccine to the community this weekend.

The health unit says the vaccine will be offered this Sunday during Windsor-Essex PrideFest weekend.

The vaccinations are targeting high risk sections of the population, which includes men who have sex with other men, a segment of the population that's being impacted by the illness.      

Acting Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Shanker Nesathurai says the health unit received confirmation this week for vaccine availability.

"First of all monkeypox is a significant health challenge and it's disproportionately affecting members of our community where men are having sex with men," says Dr. Nesathurai.   

He says this is the first time the health unit has offered vaccinations to those who have not been exposed to the illness.

"We have administered Monkeypox vaccine as part of the public health service programming and the critical service for people who have been exposed to monkeypox but don't have clinically apparent disease," says Dr. Nesathurai.  "But this is the first time that we're actually offering the vaccine at the public health service to individuals who have not contracted monkeypox."

This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. Monkeypox, a disease that rarely appears outside Africa, has been identified by European and American health authorities in recent days. (Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP)

Felicia Lawal is the Director of Public Health Programs and says the health unit has a limited supply of the vaccine but says there is enough to vaccinate more than 100 people. 

"Public health nurses will be available to provide healthy information and research on monkeypox as well as offer pre-exposure vaccination for monkeypox for those who meet criteria and qualify to receive that," says Lawal.

The health unit will have the vaccine available at Lanspeary Park between 11am and 4pm.

Last month, the health unit confirmed the area's first case of monkeypox.

At that time, Dr. Nesathurai stated the risk of transmission in the community was low.

Monkeypox is usually transmitted through close contact with bodily fluids, rashes, and scabs of infected people or animals. 

Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion, followed by the development of a rash. The time from infection to symptoms is usually 7 to 14 days.