Iqaluit vaccine clinics restricted to “vulnerable” residents
Mayor calls on health minister to overturn decision
News that most people in Iqaluit will have to wait for COVID-19 vaccinations while the government concentrates on the city’s vulnerable population was met with “sadness” from the area’s MLA and a plea from the mayor to reverse the decision.
Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Arreak Lightstone said it was “with sadness” that he shared the image of an email he says he received from the Nunavut government, stating that possible shipping delays of the Moderna vaccine were forcing the government to prioritize vaccines for the city’s “vulnerable populations.”
It says, due to vaccine shortages, the government will conduct community-wide vaccination clinics in every community except for Iqaluit, “which with its size and demographics will be done based on vulnerability categories and on quantity of available doses.”
It is with sadness that I share an email from the Minister of Health
…chosen to do community wide vaccines in all of Nunavut communities except for Iqaluit which with its size and demographics will be done based on vulnerability categories and on quantity of available doses. pic.twitter.com/kRuydlDHQA
— AdamArreakLightstone (@AdamLightstone) February 5, 2021
It prompted Mayor Kenny Bell to write a letter to Nunavut’s health minister that calls on him to overturn the decision.
“This is completely irresponsible of our government,” states the mayor’s letter, which Lightstone also shared on social media.
“Iqaluit is the largest community in Nunavut and as a major hub, most travelers in Nunavut have to travel through our community for essential purposes and this decision is putting our citizens at further unnecessary risk,” Bell said.
Bell added he is disappointed the city was not consulted in the decision.
Thank you @MayorofIqaluit for writing to the Minister asking he reverse his decision
Iqaluit likely has the highest rate of travelers with an exemption to the 14 day isolation
I invite all to join our campaign to reverse this decision
[email protected] pic.twitter.com/OAp2MdcZXk
— AdamArreakLightstone (@AdamLightstone) February 5, 2021
Vaccinations in Iqaluit have so far focused on elders’ homes, shelters and frontline workers, as well as people over 60, according to the government email.
Lightstone, Bell and the Health Department did not immediately respond to interview requests late Friday afternoon.
Despite the shipping delays of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, Premier Joe Savikataaq says that he has the federal government’s assurance that the doses promised to the territory will come.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held a conference call with Savikataaq and other premiers on Thursday to discuss their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the call, the premier did not get details on amounts or timing for the Moderna vaccine doses arriving in February, Cate Mcleod, the premier’s press secretary confirmed.
“We have the federal government’s assurances and we are very hopeful that we’re still on track,” she said in an email, referring to the Health Department’s goal of inoculating 75 per cent of the territory’s adult population by the end of March.
Speaking to reporters outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Friday, Trudeau assured Canadians the country would receive the two million doses contracted from Moderna and four million from Pfizer by the end of March, as planned.
“We are very much on track to getting those six million doses,” he said, adding that small delays were to be expected in a worldwide vaccine rollout.
As of Friday, 5,649 people have received the vaccine in Nunavut, according to the Health Department’s online tracker.
That represents about 30 percent per cent of the goal to vaccinate 75 per cent of the eligible population, which is about 19,000 adults.
There are currently 14 active cases in Nunavut in total, all in Arviat.
Restrictions in the community are now stricter, while communities in the Kitikmeot and Qikiqtani regions saw schools reopen full-time Thursday.
The outbreak in Whale Cove was officially declared over that day.
This does not make any sense or logic what so ever! It has to be based on the risk factors instead of what the Minister feels the GN should do.
Iqaluit being a major hub and has the most people travelling through Iqaluit then any other community in Nunavut this does not make sense at all, where is the logic?
Incredibly irresponsible of the Minister and his officials, Mr Premier please step in and make the right decision and fix this mess.
I understand that Adam and Kenny have almost no choice but to kick and scream and make as much of a spectacle as they can, because, well… politics.
But then, do they really?
Perhaps they could just acknowledge that vaccine shortage problems are affecting the entire country, and the entire world? Things just aren’t going to be perfect, and no one is happy about that.
Can you tell me with this shortage how other communities are chosen to be higher on the list and others (one) to be last on the list?
What is it based on? Risk? Politics?
There are no specific numbers given and I don’t have inside info so, I can only guess…
But, given Iqaluit’s population is it possible it may be receiving the same number of doses as any other community, possibly more?
Is that a political decision? Is it a health decision? Maybe it’s both… Can you imagine a plan that would not be considered ‘political’? I think it would be difficult to avoid that charge.
Sorry but your rational just doesn’t cut it, I would love to hear from Dr.Patterson on his take on this, I do believe he was not in favour of leaving Iqaluit out as it is such a high traffic area compared to the other communities that will receive vaccinations.
Science over politics don’t work for a lot of us here. I guess they are more worried about their riding and we need our mlas from Iqaluit to be more forceful, Adam has brought this out to light, Pat, George what are your thoughts on this? Please represent your constituents. Play the political game.
I could be wrong, but it’s difficult to ignore the thought that were this playing out differently, that is to say, in terms more favourable to you, the distinction between the political and the scientific would be flipped around entirely.
What do you say?
Leave it to the Premier to leave this announcement until late in the day on Friday. We all waited for the week to hear if southern concerns about supply would hamper Nunavut operations.
This is completely unacceptable. The clandestine approach is pathetic. I expect it from politicians but not doctors like Patterson.
The Education Minister did the same thing on Wednesday and left the decision to send all kids back to school until after the kids left. What’s wrong with this government?
@Kenny Bell, so the people in other communities are less important than the people in Iqaluit?
Kenny Bell is looking out for the people of Iqaluit like he was elected to do. Put your head on straight and don’t use such a derogatory name for your name.
Minister Kusugak is looking out for the people of Nunavut just like people of Iqaluit.
The GN made the right decision. Iqaluit has the best equipped health care facility in the territory and has the smallest overcrowding ratio in the territory. How many smaller communities would have to be passed by to inoculate Iqaluit? Smart move GN.
Have the ministers and the premier already been vaccinated?
This is classic political manipulation akin to gerrymandering. The premier and colleagues have made a political calculation that vaccinating the smaller communities first is advantageous to the most MLAs despite the obvious increased risk to Iqaluit as a central hub for the entire region. This decision was not made based on science, but on political biases. The capital city simply has too few MLAs to matter. As usual, it’s easy to put Iqaluit last because we “already have too much.”
It is because emergency evacuation and in-town medical aid are vest in Iqaluit on a timely basis. That’s the back-up for Iqaluit residents, and probably Rankin inlet. This decision was made on medical services criteria, not where MLAs are resident.
Nice weather these days. Someone should organize a protest outside the legislature next week.
Good idea, go make yourselves look like selfish idiots.
Are we allowed to fly to other communities to get the vaccine?
Read this first before you make that move.
if they snub you iqaluit, make sure you snub them when you see them around town
For once Iqaluit is considered last and the noise made will likely be heard across the country. They made a stink about the deep sea port going to Pang, so now there is one being built there on top of the one made in Pang. Every convenience goes to Iqaluit the rest of the territory be damned.
The majority of the people there are well educated have the lowest per house ratio, highest payroll levels, best resources to handle the virus. I believe, as in Yellowknife, if covid ever made it there it would be eliminated as quickly as they did in Yellowknife.
The smaller communities do not have the education level that the residents of Iqaluit have. The 24 other communities in Nunavut therefore have the higher risk of infecting a higher number of people.
I believe the government has made the right decision in this case.
Not for once, it has been going on for a while now, with a quarter of Nunavut’s population in Iqaluit and the number of elders here that do not have a place to be cared for they are sent down to Ottawa. Mental healthcare sent down, huge homelessness issue here, the list goes on, any kind of projects here to answer what is badly needed here is killed and not approved because it’s here in Iqaluit.
This decision is based on politics and nothing more, when a place that has so much traffic, so many people coming and going, direct flight from Ottawa, yet other communities are set higher in the priority list that do not have the traffic and is not a major hub.
I know many of you are against Iqaluit and think Iqaluit gets everything, but you have to look at the size here, over 8,000 people, all the unwanted from the other communities are dropped off here, huge homelessness and social issues. We are not saying your community does not have these same issues but it’s magnified here. Iqaluit should get the same treatment as the the communities and get vaccinated also. It is a major risk here with all the different people from all over that travel here, it’s only a matter of time.
Let’s face it, the GN is in a “no win” situation. Currently there is not enough vaccine for everyone who wants one in each community.
I applaud the government for making the decision they have which is to vaccinate all of the remote communities and the extremely vulnerable in Iqaluit, then finish by vaccinating the remaining Iqaluit population.
I am not an expert in risk mitigation but I suspect that there is more risk in Covid-19 sweeping through a single isolated community which has little medical support like it did with Arviat than it has of getting started and spreading rapidly in Iqaluit which has a lot of medical support.
I could be wrong as both scenarios are bad. I do know that it will be more time consuming and more difficult to get everyone vaccinated in all the other communities than it will be to vaccinate Iqaluit.
Don’t forget that the bottom line is that Nunavut is getting the priority on the Moderna vaccine and will likely have herd immunity established by the end of March. The rest of Canada will only be starting to vaccinate the general population many of whom are still very vulnerable in April.
Would you rather be in Iqaluit waiting to get the vaccine in March, or in Ontario hoping to get it in April, May, June, July, August, or September?
Who’s saying the 59 and under will get the vaccine in March?
The Federal government plan is to have 75% of the population vaccinated in remote communities by the end of March 2021. As all of Nunavut communities are classified as remote, and as more than 25% of the population is under 18 years of age in Nunavut, all adults should be vaccinated by the end March, assuming that they are willing to get a vaccine.
I think that it is a good decision. In southern Canada vaccinations are going to those most at risk; seniors at care homes, front line medical personnel at hospitals, care workers, other first responders, etc. I am capable of hibernating at home for another two, four, or even six months until the Old Trapper’s number is called for a vaccination.
When it comes to Nunavut, I would hope that the GN has done the calculation of how many doses are needed for each community, when those doses should arrive, and when they can be administered as the GN has a limited ability to vaccinate – it can’t for example go to all 24 communities outside Iqaluit on Monday and get everyone vaccinated by Tuesday.
On the other hand they should be looking down the list of who in Iqaluit needs vaccines, by age group, and by comorbidity. Quite possibly a 55 year old diabetic woman with high blood pressure in Iqaluit needs to get the vaccine ahead of a 22 year old male in Pond Inlet.
Has the GN done this research and calculation? Probably not, but they’ve had the better part of a year to prepare. It’s not like vaccinations just sneaked up on us. The number of trips planned for each community should be public knowledge (it’s a minimum of 2 but likely 3+), along with a tentative schedule. At the same time the GN should make it clear when specific groups in Iqaluit can expect to be vaccinated and a tentative schedule. Put the information out there, we can handle it.
Sure everyone would love to be vaccinated tomorrow, but it is a global pandemic, and vaccines are a finite resource. Let’s make sure that those most at risk get the vaccine first.
Try living somewhere in the south where there’s a massive outbreak and you won’t see a vaccine until October unless you’re categorized as most vulnerable or essential.
The reason Nunavut has the vaccine first is because Canada as a whole is focusing on the most vulnerable. I don’t see why Iqaluit can’t do the same. The mayor complaining about this just sounds childish.
Last time I checked Nunavut is a pretty Christian region. What ever happened to “the first shall be last”?
The last I checked every other community has already received the first dosage. So by your logic Iqaluit is last, and the communities are first.
The reason this is announced by the Health Minister is because Dr. Patterson does not support it. Politics VS. Science.
I’d like to hear from Dr. Patterson if he does or does not support this.
Actually, a lot of communities have not received their first doses. However, those communities that are receiving their first doses are the voting base for the ministers in power. The Health Minister is from Rankin and we know they’re vaccinated there. The only community on Baffin Island with a scheduled upcoming vaccination clinic is Cape Dorset (the Education Minister’s home David Joanasie). Check it out here: https://gov.nu.ca/health/information/covid-19-vaccination
Those ministers just want to make sure they stay in power and the way they keep their people happy is by getting them vaccines.
Politics,simple as that people in Iqaluit want to travel south,for their family,friends,vacation,shopping, so they want to be first in line.try living outside Iqaluit , with very little healthcare,mayor and MLA are being pressured by their people,and hopefully everyone will get their vaccine, be patient, there’s more sunlite , at the end of the tunnel, end of March .
Due to cowardice your comment is awaiting deletion.
I’m quite confused by all this, our MP lead us all to believe we would be the last people in the country to get the vaccine, in reality we are among the first. How did that happen?
Does this mean the 59 and under in Iqaluit are the 25% of adults who will not be vaccinated in the territory? It doesn’t create herd immunity if that 25% is all in one place.
The Federal government indicated 75% of the population (by 31MAR21) for remote communities. This includes all adults.
Neither the Pfizer nor the Moderna vaccine is a currently approved for children, and children (under 16/18) make up more than 25% of the population in Nunavut, therefore 75% of the population would include all adults.
I believe that there are now trials going on for the use of the Moderna vaccine in children, if not they will be scheduled for later this year.
It goes wrong when politicians start to be in control, they have never went to medical school and are now dictating who should get vaccine? Why isn’t Dr. Patterson saying anything?
I like to know how many politicians in Nunavut that received the vaccine? Especially those who reside in Iqaluit. We all seen the Premier get his and he is sure not even in his 60s
he is over 60