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B.C. focusing on monkeypox awareness and vaccine as Vancouver Pride Week continues

Brian Maci from New York receives a monkeypox vaccine at an outdoor walk-in clinic in Montreal on July 23. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Vancouver Coastal Health and the BCCDC are working with local businesses and event organizers to raise monkeypox awareness as Vancouver Pride week hits its signature weekend.

Monkeypox can affect anyone of any gender identity or sexual orientation, however, it has particularly impacted men in the 2SGBTQ+ community.

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There have been 61 monkeypox cases in B.C., as of July 28.

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“B.C. is working closely with federal and provincial partners to stop the spread of monkeypox. The risk to the general population in B.C. is considered low,” the BCCDC said.

“Most of the recent monkeypox cases are happening through close contacts between men who identify as having sex with other men. Stigmatizing people because of a disease is never okay. Anyone can get or pass on monkeypox, regardless of their sexuality.”

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The BCCDC and Coastal Health say the overall risk for pride event attendees is likely low, but monkeypox can spread in social gatherings through skin-to-skin contact, prolonged face-to-face interactions over several hours and exposure to towels, blankets, or other items that contact the skin and may have the virus on them.

The most commonly reported symptoms have been flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, fatigue or body aches and skin lesions like sores or blisters that can occur before or after flu-like symptoms.

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Vancouver Coastal Health has partnered with the Health Initiative for Men (HIM) in the greater Vancouver area to offer vaccine clinics at various sites.

The vaccine typically takes seven to 10 days to work effectively, but even with the pride events around the corner, officials are encouraging people to get vaccinated against the virus.

Not everyone with monkeypox will develop lesions and others with lesions will not have flu-like symptoms.

“If lesions do appear, they may or may not be painful, may be few or many, and are often found on the hands, anus and genital regions,” the guidance from health officials reads.

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The World Health Organization has declared monkeypox a global emergency due to the expanding spread of the virus in more than 70 countries.

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