MPOX* (formerly known as monkeypox) is a viral disease that causes symptoms similar to smallpox, but is less severe. It is usually spread by very close contact with someone who has the virus. Getting two doses of the MPOX vaccine gives the best protection from the virus. Anyone can get MPOX, but it has mostly been spread between people who had close intimate/sexual contact with a person who has the virus.
*The virus that causes MPOX is also known as MPXV.
MPOX typically spreads from a person with the virus to others through:
Evidence shows that contact with respiratory droplets from breathing, talking, coughing or sneezing has not been linked to the spread of MPOX.
The virus enters the body through breaks in the skin or through the eyes and mouth.
Someone with MPOX can usually pass on the virus when they develop a skin rash or blisters, but it may also spread when they have early symptoms including fever and headache.
Symptoms usually start within six to 13 days after being exposed to MPOX, but can start anywhere from five to 21 days after exposure. Most people recover from MPOX on their own within two to four weeks.
MPOX is diagnosed by a healthcare provider, based on symptoms and a laboratory test.
If you think you have MPOX, it is important to isolate right away and contact a health care provider. For more information on how to self-isolate, visit the MPOX: Self-Isolation Guidance page.
You can get tested for MPOX at a health care provider’s office, local walk-in clinic or sexual health clinics. Call in advance to make sure that MPOX testing is available.
Toronto Public Health will contact and give guidance to people who test positive for MPOX as well as known close contacts of someone who tests positive.
People who have been in contact with a person who has MPOX may be recommended to get post-exposure vaccination. They should monitor themselves for symptoms, and avoid sexual contact with others, for 21 days. If no symptoms appear you can continue with normal activities. If symptoms develop, you should isolate and contact a health care provider.
The Imvamune® vaccine is approved in Canada for protection against MPOX. The vaccine:
*The second vaccine dose is a full dose exactly like the first.
A CDC study showed that:
The study recommends that eligible people should get two doses of the MPOX vaccine for the best protection.
The vaccine may cause some side effects. Most are mild to moderate, and do not last longer than seven days. Common side effects include:
Individuals who are allergic or hypersensitive to any vaccine ingredient should speak with a healthcare provider before getting the vaccine. Learn more about the list of vaccine ingredients.
Imvamune may contain trace amounts of antibiotics (gentamicin and ciprofloxacin) and egg products. People with known hypersensitivity to these products are still able to safely get the vaccine, but should be monitored for an extra 15 minutes (30 minutes total) after getting vaccinated.
Contact a health care provider or go to the nearest emergency department if you have any of these symptoms after getting the vaccine:
An AEFI is an unexpected reaction or event after getting a vaccine. If you think you are experiencing an AEFI, contact a health care provider. To learn more about AEFIs and how they are reported, visit: Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI).
Toronto Public Health continues to follow federal and provincial guidance on the administration of Imvamune vaccines to protect at-risk populations against the MPOX virus.
Based on Ontario Ministry of Health guidelines, two vaccine doses, given at least 28 days apart, are available to eligible groups. Two doses of the vaccine provides the best protection.
The vaccine is free and available to all eligible people. No ID or OHIP required. If you have questions about your eligibility for vaccination, contact a health care provider or Toronto Public Health.
Wait to get vaccinated if you have any COVID-19 symptoms and/or you are required to self-isolate.
Household and/or sexual contacts of people who are eligible for Pre-Exposure Vaccination listed above in parts (a) or (b) above AND who are moderately or severely immunocompromised (have a weak immune system) or are pregnant may be at risk for severe illness from a MPOX infection. These individuals may be considered for Pre-Exposure Vaccination, and should contact a health care provider or Toronto Public Health for more information.
If you are eligible to get Imvamune as Pre- or Post-Exposure Vaccination and already got a smallpox vaccine (either an older generation replicating (live) smallpox vaccine or Imvamune) in the past, you should still get immunized for MPOX as you may not be protected.
If you think you have MPOX, isolate right away and contact a health care provider.
The vaccine is not used as a treatment if you already have MPOX. At this time, people who have or have had MPOX are not eligible for the vaccine because they have immunity from the infection.
Right now, we don’t have information about getting Imvamune at the same time as other vaccines. It is recommended:
To view the latest summary report on MPOX in Toronto, visit Public Health Ontario’s MPOX webpage.