More vaccine doses expected in Nunavut next week
“Additional clinics will be scheduled once the date and the number of doses for the next shipment are confirmed”
Nunavut’s next shipment of COVID-19 vaccines is expected to arrive next week, said Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, during a news conference on Thursday.
Although the exact date and amount are still unknown, Patterson says that he expects another 6,000 doses, the same as what the territory received on Dec. 30.
“Additional clinics will be scheduled once the date and the number of doses for the next shipment are confirmed,” he said.
Vaccinations in the territory began on Jan. 6 at the elders facility in Iqaluit and will continue with clinics next week in Gjoa Haven, Igloolik, Arviat and Cambridge Bay.
According to Patterson, the initial vaccinations went well, with 21 Iqaluit elders receiving their immunization.
“This means the elders facility in Iqaluit is one step closer to protection from COVID-19 and one step closer to their family and friends being able to visit without restriction or worry,” he said.
In addition to elders, eight Iqaluit public health staff also received the vaccine.
While the priority was to immunize elders and staff at the long-term care centre, Patterson explained that administering the vaccine comes with logistical challenges.
“The difficulty with the vaccine is that once you poke a hole in it, six hours later the entire bottle is gone,” he said.
“Once it’s thawed into the liquid state, we can’t put it back on the planes and fly it into other communities.”
While unpunctured, thawed vials can remain in the community and be administered by local health staff for 28 days, Patterson said that “there’s no way we can guarantee that all people who miss the clinic will be able to get it before the next clinic time comes around.”
To prevent doses of the vaccine from going to waste in Iqaluit on Wednesday, nurses “very appropriately” vaccinated a number of people at the public health building who were available and were also in need of protection, said Patterson.
Although this prevented doses from being lost on the territory’s first day of vaccinations, Patterson says the national estimate is that about five per cent of doses will go to waste.
“That’s factored into the supplies that we’re getting,” he said. Nunavut expects to receive enough doses of the vaccine to protect 75 per cent of its adult population.
Patterson estimates that come Monday, Jan. 11, when vaccinations begin in Gjoa Haven and Igloolik, nurses will be able to immunize 500 Nunavummiut per day.
For more information on the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, including up to date schedules and locations for clinics and the number of vaccines that have been administered, visit the Department of Health’s vaccination website.