Island Health is asking those at risk of contracting the monkeypox virus to check back later for vaccination appointments, with none currently available in the region’s two biggest cities.
Six cases of monkeypox have been identified in the Island Health region since the virus was first detected here, Island Health said in a statement Thursday.
“High risk contacts have been identified, notified and offered vaccine,” it said.
However, no vaccination appointments were available through Island Health’s scheduling portal on Thursday or Friday in Nanaimo or Victoria, while a handful of appointments were available at the health unit in Courtenay on Friday. There were no appointments showing for next week in any of the three cities.
“Island Health receives vaccine supply weekly,” the authority said. “Additional appointments will be made available as vaccine supply is received. If no appointments are currently available in your region, please check back later.”
Island Health noted that the risk to the public remains “very low” on Vancouver Island, and that vaccination of high-risk people is the most effective tool to curb transmission.
One-hundred eighty doses had been administered as of last week, and Island Health said it received an addition 420 doses for distribution on the south, central and north Island, adding that uptake has been “excellent.”
The BC Centre for Disease Control reported 78 cases of monkeypox province-wide as of Tuesday, with the bulk of cases in the Lower Mainland (66).
The U.S. was expected to declare a public health emergency to boost federal response to the outbreak of the virus, which had infected more than 6,600 people in that country as of Thursday.
Symptoms of the virus include a painful rash that can be accompanied by fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes and body aches.
The virus can be passed through contact with bodily fluids or scabs and contaminated personal items like clothing, bedding, sex toys or toothbrushes.
Prevention and vaccination efforts have primarily been focused on men who have sex with men, though the virus is not specifically sexually transmitted.
Canada-wide, there have been 890 cases of monkeypox reported as of Wednesday, with most occurring in Ontario (423) and Quebec (373).