Monkeypox vaccine available at Pride Fest in Windsor this weekend

A colourized transmission electron micrograph of monkeypox particles (teal) found within an infected cell (brown), is shown in a handout photo captured at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Maryland. The Windsor-Essex health unit is holding a vaccine clinic for the disease Sunday.  (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - image credit)

As many as 100 people will receive a monkeypox vaccine at Pride Fest in Windsor this weekend, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) announced Friday.

Doses of the vaccine — known as pre-exposure prophylaxis — will be available Sunday at Lanspeary Park at a booth hosted by the health unit from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The heath unit said the vaccines are for people at a higher risk, and who meet certain criteria.

"Monkeypox is a significant health challenge and it's disproportionately affecting members of our community where men are having sex with men," said Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, acting medical officer of health for the region.

WECHU said once that the province committed to a certain amount of doses to be allocated locally, the organization decided to hold the vaccine clinic.

Public Health Ontario says there were 423 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the province as of Tuesday. Only one of those cases has been confirmed in Windsor-Essex County.

Monkeypox causes flu-like symptoms and skin lesions, and spreads through close contact.

The health unit and infectious disease specialists say anyone is at risk of acquiring monkeypox if they're in close physical contact with someone who is infected. However, the LGBTQ community and particularly men who have sex with men, are at disproportionate risk of infection in this outbreak, they say.

WECHU said they have been working closely with community partners to ensure information and messaging around monkeypox is "factual and sensitive," after some in the LGBTQ community said monkeypox messaging is stigmatizing and could lead to discrimination.

The health unit said anyone looking to receive a monkeypox vaccine or information can attend the pop-up event at Lanspeary Park Sunday.

If vaccine doses run out, the health unit said they will follow up with anyone who wanted to recieve a vaccine but could not do so.

WECHU says that the risk of contracting the monkeypox virus here in Windsor remains low.

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