Iqaluit to see second round of COVID-19 vaccinations next week
Residents 65 and over and anyone living or working in a shelter can now book appointments
Iqaluit residents 65 years of age and older, and anyone living or working in one of the city’s shelters, will be able to receive COVID-19 vaccines beginning on Monday, Jan. 18.
The news comes after Nunavut’s chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, announced during a news conference on Tuesday, Jan. 12, that the territory expects to receive another 12,000 doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine by the middle of February.
Vaccinations in Nunavut began last week at the elders centre in Iqaluit and have continued with clinics starting in Gjoa Haven and Igloolik Monday.
According to Patterson, as of Monday evening just over 400 Nunavummiut had received the first dose of their vaccination, and none has encountered any serious adverse reactions.
“It’s encouraging and we’re hoping to build on those successes,” said Patterson.
Although some communities have opted to hold their clinics on a walk-in basis, others, such as Cambridge Bay, have seen almost 60 per cent of all adults make vaccination appointments, said Premier Joe Savikataaq.
Health Minister Lorne Kusugak made an impassioned appeal to residents to receive vaccinations.
“Not that long ago, we had square dance competitions, community feasts, community events where everybody, old and young, got together and enjoyed each other’s company. We were able to participate in hockey tournaments and soccer tournaments and life was good … Now we can’t say hi to each other, we have to stay six feet apart and all wear masks,” said Kusugak.
“If we don’t take the vaccine and follow the recommendations of health professionals, 2021 won’t be much different than 2020.”
With cases and hospitalizations in the rest of Canada continuing to climb, Kusugak also expressed his concern that this could have implications for Nunavut.
“If this virus should spread rampantly across this territory, where are we going to send patients?” he asked.
Ontario is facing the prospect of its hospitals becoming overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases. If this happened to hospitals that currently provide medical treatment to Nunavut residents , the territorial government would seek to send residents elsewhere, said Patterson.
Although Patterson acknowledged that some procedures and surgeries have been postponed, he isn’t aware of any Nunavummiut being denied medevac or emergency services in the south.
Kusugak said that the uncertainly in the south is another reason to get the vaccine.
“Even if you don’t believe in it, you should get it for the sake of those that you are going to be close to and that you could pass it on to,” he said.
With the news that more doses of the vaccine will be arriving by mid-February, Patterson says that additional clinics will be announced in the coming days.
He also said that other priority groups, such as those in correctional facilities, would likely be included in the next round of vaccinations in Iqaluit.
Residents in one of the priority groups can call Iqaluit Public Health at 867-975-4810 to book a vaccination appointment.
The first clinic will be held from Jan. 18 to 22 at Iqaluit Public Health, with appointments available between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
The second clinic will be held on Jan. 23 at the Qikiqtani General Hospital clinic side, with appointments available between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
For more information regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, including community-specific information and vaccination schedules, visit the Government of Nunavut’s website.