A closeup of a person's hand who has monkeypox. Their hand is covered in lesions.
Photo Credit: CDC | Getty Images

Photo Credit: CDC | Getty Images

You Can Get Monkeypox on the Island, But Not the Vaccine

Can we deal with one crisis at a time, please?

“Vulnerable populations” are in fact the entire population

Monkeypox has made it to VanIsle. Wonderful. Isn’t that just fantastic.

But the vaccine? Not so easy to get.

As of Friday, August 5th, there were six confirmed cases of Monkeypox in the Island Health region. That’s a total of 81 cases in BC.

But all three of the clinics on VanIsle that offer the vaccine have no free appointment slots.

Okay, let’s wind that back. There are only three clinics that offer the vaccines on the whole Island?

And they’re all located down Island?

Great.

Maybe it’s a good thing so many people have already booked an appointment to protect themselves. But in this case, it seems this is more of a supply issue.

The vaccine is currently only available to “vulnerable” sectors of the population. But this could backfire pretty quickly. 

Why?

Because anyone can get monkeypox. Everyone is technically vulnerable.

The current rumour is that monkeypox only affects gay men. But that’s not actually true.

It’s just that the gay male community is pretty tight-knit. The illness could just as easily make a similar jump to any other group.

Remember when the kids at that Christian youth retreat in Comox Valley all got COVID last November? They spent the weekend dancing at parties and sharing dorm rooms.

Pretty innocent stuff, right? But those kids are also part of a tight-knit community.

Monkeypox is spread through any kind of close contact with someone who is sick with the illness.

That means hugging, shaking hands, and sharing food, drinks, or utensils can spread it. Or touching clothing, towels, and bedding from someone who is sick. 

Island Health is launching a targeted vaccination campaign for those currently at highest risk of acquiring and spreading monkeypox,” they said on their website.

“All who qualify are encouraged to book an appointment and the B.C. Medical Services Plan is not required. The vaccine is not available to the general public at this time.”

While it’s good the vaccine is being made available to the people who currently need it most, Island Health is only making it available to those who are “18 years old and transgender, or self-identify as belonging to the gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men community.”

That seems pretty short-sighted, to say the least.

Hopefully, monkeypox won’t spread too much on the VanIsle.

But if it does, we may have a problem Island Health is not at all prepared for.

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