The National Advisory Committee on Immunization says the mpox vaccine can be given at the same time as an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, reversing its previous recommendation to wait at least four weeks due to safety concerns.

It said Friday that data is now available to show there is no increased risk of myocarditis or anaphylaxis for people who are given Imvamune, the vaccine for mpox, when they are also vaccinated against COVID-19.

The recommendation also says that Imvamune can be given at the same time as any other live or non-live vaccines.

The committee recommended the mpox vaccine two years ago after outbreaks in several countries, mostly among men who have sex with men as well as sex workers.

The first case in this country was reported to the Public Health Agency of Canada in May 2022, and the committee says there were 1,541 cases up to the end of last year.

Ontario had 737 cases, Quebec reported 531 cases and British Columbia had 213, the committee said.

Symptoms of the disease include a rash, fever, body aches, back pain and swollen lymph glands that appear within seven to  21 days after exposure.

Two doses of Imvamune are given at least 28 days apart to protect against the disease or as soon as possible after exposure to the virus to prevent illness or severe outcomes.

Those considered at highest risk of mpox include men who have sex with men and meet at least one of these criteria: they have more than one partner, are in a relationship where at least one of the partners has other sexual partners or they have had a confirmed sexually transmitted infection in the last year.

The committee says sex workers, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, are also at risk of infection, as are people who have had sexual contact in sex venues or work or volunteer there.

It says that while cases of mpox have declined significantly since the fall of 2022, the disease remains an important public health concern.

A spokeswoman with Toronto Public Health says the city has had 36 lab-confirmed cases so far this year compared to 27 cases for all of last year.

Toronto Public Health says the mpox vaccine will be offered by appointment at Metro Hall on June 1 and June 8 as part of Pride month awareness efforts that will also involve community organizations.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2024.