Get protected, get immunized.
Imvamune is a vaccine that protects against
orthopoxvirus infections such as monkeypox and smallpox. As of the date at the bottom of this information, there are no cases of smallpox in Canada, but there are cases of monkeypox.
Imvamune is approved for use in Canada.
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus. It can infect humans. It’s usually mild and most people recover on their own after a few weeks. However, some people can get very sick and even die. Early symptoms may include:
Most people with monkeypox infection will get a rash or sores which can be on the hands, feet, mouth, and genitals. The rash can last 14 to 28 days. You can spread monkeypox to others from the time your symptoms start until the rash goes away and your skin heals.
You’re at risk if you have close contact with someone who has monkeypox (for example, you live with the person or have sexual contact with them). You may be at higher risk of getting very sick if you:
Monkeypox spreads through close contact with someone who has monkeypox. It may also spread if you have contact with bedding, sheets, or clothing that touches the rash and has virus on it. The virus enters the body through broken skin or your eyes, nose, or mouth.
Here’s what you can do to prevent monkeypox from spreading:
You may be able to get this vaccine if you have a higher risk of being exposed to monkeypox.
You may have a higher risk if you identify as part of the men who have sex with men (MSM) community or have had or are planning to have sexual contact with someone who identifies as MSM, and 1 of the following applies to you:
You may also have a higher risk if you:
You should also get this vaccine if you had close contact with someone who has monkeypox. It’s best to get this vaccine within 4 days of close contact, but you can get it up to 14 days after. Once your symptoms start, you can no longer get the vaccine.
Call Health Link at 811 to find out if you should get this vaccine.
Imvamune is licensed for people age 18 years or older. However, vaccine experts support using Imvamune for people of any age who are at high risk of being exposed to monkeypox or have had close contact with someone who has monkeypox. If you get the vaccine and are under age 18 years, this is called “off-label use.” There is limited information on the use of Imvamune in children. Studies done with similar vaccines show there were no safety concerns for children under age 18 years. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are under age 18 years before getting this vaccine.
If you are getting the vaccine because you have a high risk of being exposed to monkeypox, you need 2 doses.
If you are getting the vaccine because you had close contact with someone who has monkeypox, you need at least 1 dose. You may need more doses depending on your risk of being exposed to monkeypox virus again and your immune system health.
If you have had smallpox vaccine in the past, you may need fewer doses of monkeypox vaccine.
Talk to your healthcare provider about how many doses you need.
For Imvamune to work, you need to get it before monkeypox symptoms start. If you get Imvamune after contact with monkeypox virus, the vaccine can protect you from getting a monkeypox infection, or it can make the infection milder. If you have a weak immune system, the vaccine may not work as well.
If you think you may be at higher risk for being exposed to monkeypox, call Health Link at 811 to see if you can get the vaccine.
Public Health will contact you if you are identified as a close contact of a confirmed case of monkeypox. If Public Health decides that you need Imvamune, they will tell you where to go for the vaccine.
There can be side effects from Imvamune, but they tend to be mild to moderate and go away within 7 days. Side effects may include:
It’s important to stay at the clinic for 15 minutes after your vaccine. Some people may have a rare but serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. If anaphylaxis happens, you’ll get medicine to treat the symptoms.
It’s rare to have a serious side effect. Call Health Link at 811 to report any serious or unusual side effects.
There have been rare reports of cardiac (heart) symptoms after getting Imvamune. However, none were considered serious. There have also been reports of myopericarditis (an inflammation of both the heart muscle and lining around the heart) after other vaccines that protect against smallpox. However, no cases of myopericarditis after Imvamune have been reported. Get medical help
right away if you have any of these symptoms:
It is not known if having a history of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) or pericarditis (inflammation of the lining around the heart) after getting Imvamune or another smallpox vaccine puts you at higher risk of having these rare events. Talk to your healthcare provider before getting Imvamune if you have had these rare events after getting a smallpox vaccine or Imvamune.
To help with soreness and swelling, put a cool, wet cloth over the area where you had the needle.
There is medicine to help with a fever or pain. Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you’re not sure what medicine or dose to take. Follow the directions on the package.
Children under the age of 18 years should
not take aspirin (unless your doctor has told you to take it) because it can cause serious health problems if taken within 6 weeks of a vaccine.
Some people with health problems, such as a weak immune system, must call their doctor if they get a fever. If you’ve been told to do this, call your doctor even if you think the fever is from the vaccine.
It’s best not to get Imvamune at the same time as another vaccine so that you can watch for side effects. However, if you have been exposed to monkeypox, you should not wait to get your vaccine.
If you got another vaccine in the last 4 weeks, talk to your healthcare provider about when you should get Imvamune.
After getting Imvamune, you should wait at least:
You may not be able to get this vaccine if you:
Check with your doctor or a public health nurse before you get Imvamune.
You can still get the vaccine if you have a mild illness such as a cold or fever. However, if you have symptoms of an illness, you should stay home until you are feeling better, unless you have been exposed to monkeypox. If you have been exposed, you should get the vaccine right away.
You can get the vaccine if you have eczema (atopic dermatitis—a skin condition that makes your skin red and itchy). People with eczema are more likely to have serious side effects with other smallpox vaccines, but this has not been reported with Imvamune. If you have eczema and get Imvamune, you may be more likely to have common vaccine side effects or your eczema could get worse. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have questions.
There is more to learn about Imvamune and certain groups of people. Talk to your healthcare provider
before you get Imvamune if you:
Many adults and children are afraid of needles. You can do many things before, during, and after immunization to be more comfortable. Visit
Commitment to Comfort for tips to make immunization a better experience.
Current as of: October 11, 2022
Author: Provincial Immunization Program, Alberta Health Services
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.