Brick pox: Quebec refuses to vaccinate health workers

Health workers who screen and vaccinate populations at risk of monkeypox, also known as “monkeypox”, will not be vaccinated against this infectious disease. This is despite the demands of the nursing community in this sense.

In the face of the growing number of monkeypox cases, clinics leading the screening and vaccination efforts have seen many patients pass over the past few days. At this time, however, the nurses leading these efforts are not getting the vaccine they give others.

Dr. Regine Thomas is an HIV specialist and founding president of Clinique médicale l’Actuel. He works with the LGBTQ2+ community and cares for patients with monkeypox.

He recently submitted a request to the Commission on Immunization of Quebec (CIQ) to make monkeypox vaccination available to health care staff. The response received was negative.

My concern is that if a nurse becomes ill in this way, what will be the effect on other nurses who are being asked to run tests without being vaccinated?

Dr. Reagan Thomas

He’s afraid, in this case, that some employees might be afraid to get tested or vaccinated against monkeypox. This may then lead to a shortage of staff within the clinic when the needs are really great.

There are not enough doses, but enough protective equipment

The doctor recalls that during the vaccination against the Corona virus, the nursing staff were among the first groups to receive the vaccine. The government’s logic wanted us to make sure that we didn’t lose employees to infection, and also that those people didn’t become vectors of transmission.

According to various public health authorities, monkeypox is much less contagious than COVID-19.

“The immunization committee is of the opinion that with the means of protection we take we are not in danger. But I mean, when you have a nurse doing ten shows a week, anyway…”, emphasizes Dr. Thomas. He adds that people taking these doses are not a very large group.

This need to make vaccination available to health workers is supported by virology expert from the National Institute of Scientific Research (INRS), Alain Lamarie. However, at this point, vaccination will not extend to the rest of the population.

I would like to include health care workers […] who are in constant contact with cases; They can also benefit from vaccination,” he says.

Adequate protection, says INSPQ

For its part, the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ), which governs the CIQ, considers that vaccination of health workers is not necessary. In an interview with subwayresearcher Carolyn Quach-Thanh explains that health care workers remain well-protected from potential infection.

Because doses of smallpox vaccine are scarce, and since health care personnel must wear a procedural mask, gloves, and gown when examining or sampling pests, the risk of these health care personnel contracting monkeypox is minimal.

Caroline Quach Thanh, Researcher at INSPQ

However, at its site, INSPQ recommends vaccination for laboratory personnel at risk of exposure to the virus.

Workers in research laboratories are at high risk of exposure to Orthopox Reproductions (human smallpox, vaccinia virus, monkeypox) must be immunized with smallpox vaccine.

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