Monkeypox: The Struggle To Get Vaccinated

Written by Selene Candace

Updated: Nov 14, 2022

sexual health monkeypox vaccination

If you’re reading this, and you’re a sex worker, maybe you’ve already been vaccinated against monkeypox. However, that may not be the case as it was just until recently that eligibility has expanded to include more individuals (i .e. sex workers) in many areas.

Monkeypox is an infectious disease which has been spreading around since May, 2022, usually through sexual contact. Anyone, regardless of identity, can contract the virus. While it’s not a sexually transmitted disease, intimate skin-to-skin contact during sexual relations leaves sex works (along with the vulnerable population) at a high risk.

My friend Leigh wrote a blog post about her struggle to get vaccinated despite being a viable and deserving candidate. It pains me to see the injustice my friend had to go through, because my experience was quite a walk in the park— mind you, I had mine after the roll out of the inclusion of sex workers, while she was part of making history happen by putting pressure to get sex workers included into the eligibility criteria.

While some vaccines were successfully rolled out in major cities, not everyone had the same access, as eligibility criteria vary by jurisdiction. Which is what my friend Leigh experienced.

In Canada, we dealt with something similar— we had to fight for the right for sex workers to gain access to the vaccine as we (sex workers) weren’t initially deemed ‘eligible’.

Eligibility Criteria

Ontario finally opened its eligibility criteria to include those who meet the criteria of one or more of the following:

  • Received a diagnosis of a bacterial Sexually Transmitted Infection such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis in the past two months,
  • Visited a bath house or sex club or are planning to, or work/volunteer in these settings,
  • Had anonymous sex or are planning to,
  • Engaged in sex work or are planning to, or are a sexual partner of a sex worker, or
  • Had two or more sexual partners within the past 21 days or may be planning to.

Another fight… another win though. But another fight. How much longer do we have to keep fighting to be seen as human? As equals?

I’ll let Leigh fill you in on the rest, she tells it more eloquently than I ever could.

Over to you Leigh!

Leigh’s Blog Post