Monkeypox virus

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Last revised: June 29, 2022

What is monkeypox?

⚠ June 17, 2022 - First confirmed case of monkeypox in Ottawa 

Monkeypox is a rare viral disease caused by a virus usually found to be endemic in Central and Western Africa. The virus enters the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract or the mucous membranes, like the eyes, nose, or mouth.  

Ottawa Public Health will follow up with and provide guidance to those who are confirmed to have monkeypox and any possible contacts. This guidance will include instructions for self-isolation. Ottawa Public Health continues to work closely with the Ministry of Health and Public Health Ontario, local infectious disease experts and health care providers to identify cases of monkeypox in the community. If you want to know more about the numbers of confirmed, suspect or probable cases, you can visit the Public Health Ontario page (updated Tuesdays and Fridays).  

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) the risk of infection is low for the general population. The monkeypox virus can affect anyone who is in close contact with an infected person such as direct contact with their body fluids, respiratory droplets, sores or by coming into contact with items they may have been in contact with.

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Common signs and symptoms of monkeypox include: 

  • Fever 
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Exhaustion 
  • Swollen lymph nodes 
  • New rash or lesions--(usually appears a few days after other symptoms on the faceand the extremities.) 

The incubation period (time between exposure/ infection and when symptoms begin) is typically six to 13 days, and can be up to 21 days.  

If you think that you may have the signs and symptoms of monkeypox, and or are a close contact of someone who has confirmed monkeypox, please contact your health care provider for an assessment as soon as possible. Limit your contact with others and self-isolate.  

Most transmission of monkeypox in Canada has occurred between close contacts like intimate partners or household members.

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Vaccine information

What is the monkeypox vaccine (Imvamune®)?
Imvamune® is a vaccine that helps protect against monkeypox infection. Imvamune® is a live, non-replicating vaccine. The vaccine contains a very weakened form of a virus similar to the one that causes monkeypox and cannot make you sick. When a person is given the vaccine, the immune system will produce its own protection in the form of antibodies against the virus.

Who is eligible for the Imvamune® monkeypox vaccine?

At this time, one dose of the monkeypox vaccine (Imvamune®) can be given to eligible persons as per the Ontario Ministry of Health guidelines.

Imvamune® can be used to protect individuals before an exposure to the monkeypox virus (this is called Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis or PrEP) or to protect individuals after being exposed to the monkeypox virus (this is called Post-Exposure Prophylaxis or PEP).

Imvamune® vaccine eligibility for protection before an exposure to the monkeypox virus

Based on the Ontario Ministry of Health guidelines, trans- or cis-gender individuals who self-identify as belonging to the gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM) community are eligible for pre-exposure prophylaxis if they meet one of the following criteria: 

  • Have received a diagnosis of bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the past 2 months. Examples of bacterial STIs are chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.  
  • Have had two or more sexual partners within the past 21 days, or may be planning to. 
  • Have attended venues for sexual contact within the past 21 days, or may be planning to, or who work/volunteer in these settings. Examples of these settings include bath houses or sex clubs. 
  • Have had anonymous/casual sex in the past 21 days, or may be planning to. 
  • Engage in sex for work or may be planning to. Sexual contacts of these individuals are also eligible to receive the monkeypox vaccine. 

Imvamune® vaccine eligibility after being exposed to the monkeypox virus

Based on the Ontario Ministry of Health guidelines, individuals who have been identified by their local public health unit as having a high or intermediate-risk exposure with someone who has the monkeypox virus are eligible to receive Imvamune®. These individuals will be contacted directly by their local public health unit. 

Who should not receive the Imvamune® monkeypox vaccine?

Anyone who does not meet the current eligibility criteria outlined by the Ontario Ministry of Health is not eligible to receive the monkeypox vaccine.

People who have a confirmed allergy to any of the vaccine ingredients or its container are not eligible for the monkeypox vaccine. Ingredients of the Imvamune® vaccine are:

  • Tromethamine (trometamol, Tris)
  • Sodium chloride
  • Water for injection
  • Hydrochloric acid
  • Bromobutyl rubber stopper

Imvamune® may also contain trace amounts of:

  • Gentamicin
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Egg cell DNA and protein
  • Benzonase

If you have an allergy to eggs, gentamicin or ciprofloxacin, or an antibiotic in the same class as gentamicin (aminoglycosides) or ciprofloxacin (quinolones), please call 613-580-6744 for more information about eligibility for Imvamune®.

For Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, it is currently recommended that people wait at least 4 weeks after receiving a live vaccine and at least 2 weeks after receiving an inactivated vaccine before receiving the monkeypox vaccine.

How can I access the Imvamune® monkeypox vaccine if I am eligible?

If you have been identified as a high risk contact or an intermediate risk contact of a confirmed or probable case of monkeypox, you will be contacted by Ottawa Public Health directly and may be offered an appointment to receive the monkeypox vaccine for Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP).

If you are eligible to receive the monkeypox vaccine for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), Ottawa Public Health may contact you directly to offer an appointment, or you can use the online appointment booking page or call 613-580-6744 to book an appointment to receive the monkeypox vaccine.

View upcoming clinic dates for monkeypox vaccine for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) 

Clinics in Ottawa for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for monkeypox

Clinic location Date and time Clinic notes 

Centretown CHC 

420 Cooper Street Ottawa

  • Tuesday, June 28, 2022 from 4 pm to 7pm
  • Wednesday, June 29, 2022 from 1 pm to 6 pm
  • Thursday, June 30, 2022 from 1 pm to 4 pm
  • Monday, July 4,  2022 from 1 pm to 4 pm

  • Tuesday, July 5, from 1 pm to 6 pm

  • Wednesday, July 6, 2022 from 1 pm to 6 pm
  • Thursday, July 7, 2022 from 1 pm to 6 pm

  • Friday, July 8, 2022 from 1 pm to 4 pm
Appointments can be booked online or by phone at 613-580-6744.

All eligible clients with an appointment at the OPH Sexual Health Clinic will be offered the vaccine as part of their visit.

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Think you may have been exposed to monkeypox?

The provision of Imvamune® vaccine for post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) requires an assessment of the risk of exposure by Ottawa Public Health. PEP should be offered ideally within 4 days (up to 14 days) from the date of the last exposure. Any one who self-identifies as a high risk contact of a confirmed or probable case of monkeypox should contact Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744 for further assessment to see if PEP would be recommended. Intermediate risk contacts may also be offered PEP, following Ottawa Public Health's assessment of individual risks and benefits (i.e., to balance the risks from exposure, protection from vaccination and potential side effects from the vaccine). Low risk contacts are also not recommended for PEP.

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Background information 

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