Thousands of foreigners, including hundreds of Americans, are flocking to the monkeypox vaccines offered to everyone in Montreal, in a context of scarcity of doses in the United States.
In Canada, Montreal is increasingly visited… by Americans who want to be vaccinated against monkeypox. Located about 70 km from the American border, the Quebec metropolis made the decision at the start of its vaccination campaign to accept anyone who considered themselves to be at risk.
Robb Stilson is one of the Americans who took advantage during a visit to Montreal.
“It is very difficult in the United States to get vaccinated (…) I have friends who waited 8 to 9 hours before being admitted”, says this artistic director from the queue of a pop-up vaccination center with her husband and two daughters.
18,500 people vaccinated
Faced with the difficulty of tracing the origin of the infections, the Montreal authorities have chosen to target their vaccination campaign to all those “entering into the current criteria of risk factors for the transmission of smallpox”.
“As tourists they may be involved in activities that could put them at risk and so in a way we are fighting the pandemic by allowing them to get vaccinated here so they don’t spread the infection, or here , or when they return home,” says Dr. Donald Vinh, infectious disease specialist at the McGill University Health Center.
With this approach, combined with a vaccination campaign launched as soon as the first cases appeared in mid-May, Montreal has already vaccinated nearly 18,500 people, 13% of whom are foreigners. The objective is to administer 25,000 doses to protect around 75 to 80% of people at risk, in particular men who have sex with other men or multiple partners.
“Limited reserves” in the West
In Western Canada, the British Columbia Ministry of Health decided last week to no longer accept foreigners who come “for the purpose of vaccination”, citing “limited supplies” and considering that the vaccine is now “widely available in the United States”.
Faced with a lack of available doses, the American health authorities also authorized on Tuesday a new injection procedure which should allow “to increase the total number of doses available up to five times”.