Nova Scotia to open pre-exposure monkeypox vaccine clinic

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A registered nurse prepares a dose of a Monkeypox vaccine at the Salt Lake County Health Department Thursday, July 28, 2022, in Salt Lake City. The Nova Scotia government will release more information on how to book an appointment next week.  (Rick Bowmer/The Associated Press - image credit)
A registered nurse prepares a dose of a Monkeypox vaccine at the Salt Lake County Health Department Thursday, July 28, 2022, in Salt Lake City. The Nova Scotia government will release more information on how to book an appointment next week. (Rick Bowmer/The Associated Press - image credit)

Nova Scotia will soon offer the monkeypox vaccine to people at the highest risk of exposure, including members of the LGBTQ community.

The Halifax Sexual Health Centre will host a free pre-exposure clinic as soon as the week of Sept. 19, the province said Friday in a news release.

The province confirmed the first case of monkeypox in Nova Scotia on Aug. 23.

"I want to encourage people who are at highest risk to go get vaccinated," Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, said in the release.

"By ensuring those at greatest risk of being exposed to the virus have access to a vaccine before a potential exposure, it will help to protect against the virus, limit the spread and help reduce serious symptoms."

Vaccine eligibility requirements

Only Nova Scotia residents or people living in the province for prolonged periods, including post-secondary students, are eligible for the vaccine program. They must also meet one of the following criteria:

1. A cisgender or transgender queer man, two-spirit person or non-binary person who has sexual contact with a cisgender or transgender queer man, a two-spirit person or a non-binary person, and has at least one of the following:

  • Two or more sexual partners as defined above in the last three months, or is planning to.

  • A diagnosis of a bacterial sexually transmitted infection in the last three months.

  • Attended, worked at, or volunteered at an event/social venue for sexual contact, such as a bath house or sex club, in the last three months, or is planning to.

  • Had anonymous sex in the last three months, or is planning to.

  • Engaged as a worker or a client in sex work, or is planning to.

Or

2. A person who has sexual contact with someone who meets the above criteria.

More details on booking appointments are expected to be made available next week. There are also plans to expand the vaccine program to communities outside of HRM.

Monkeypox spreads through close, prolonged contact and can impact anyone, but many infections have involved men who have sex with men.

While other provinces prioritized members of the LGBTQ community in their vaccine rollout, Nova Scotia had been reserving its supply for those who tested positive for the virus or were in close contact with someone who was positive.

A group of health providers and advocates, including the Halifax Sexual Health Centre, sent an open letter to the province last month calling for more action to prevent a moneybox outbreak in Nova Scotia.

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