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”

Another 6,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccination are expected to arrive in Nunavut next week. (Photo by Dustin Patar)

By Dustin Patar

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.

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(2) Comments:

  1. Posted by Consistency on

    So on the media update yesterday it was implied that around 60% or more of Nunavummiut will need to be vaccinated (this is total population) to achieve herd immunity, however right now only 18 and over are able to be vaccinated.
    Approximately only 60% of our population is over the age of 18. So to see restrictions on travel hubs being lifted EVERYONE over 18 needs to get vaccinated… to even have a hope of lifting those restrictions. but supply will only be enough for 75% of those over 18… so my math leaves us short of our goal.
    Is there any Idea when younger than 18 can get the Vaccine? I don’t see how anything will change for the foreseeable future.
    Get vaccinated.

  2. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    I agree that the drug companies need to get started on clinical trials of people under 18, including young children. I believe though that they are waiting to accumulate additional data from the general mass vaccinations that have just started.
    It is a difficult choice, especially (I believe) as children under 18 do not have the same right to provide informed consent to participate in a clinical trial as adults. It may well be a year or more before vaccinations for children are authorized by Health Canada.
    Thinking back to the beginning of the pandemic in the spring, scientists did not even know if the virus was capable of being spread through the air, many also thought that children were somehow “immune” to getting the virus.
    In reality it appears that most infection is through airborne particles, and children are being infected at an every increasing rate. It would appear that in the earliest days of the pandemic having schools shut down, followed by an early end to the school year reduced the opportunity for the virus to spread between children. As children have gone back to school their infection rate has increased dramatically.
    It is also apparent to me that even with near complete vaccination we may still be wearing masks and social distancing until our community levels of coronavirus drop to zero for an extended period of time.
    We also need to be aware that we don’t know how long we will be protected by the vaccine. Do people require a yearly booster? Will the virus mutate enough to require a slightly altered vaccine? All questions that we don’t have the answers to at this time.
    One other point. Ontario has just set another daily record for infections, and hospital staff, and ICU units are being stretched to the maximum. Quebec is also setting daily record infection rates. Almost every province has seen a sharp increase over the last 2 or 3 days due to Christmas shopping, and Christmas gatherings. Please stay home as much as possible. Always wear a mask outside, or when shopping. Social distance. Wash your hands often.
    This pandemic is still a long ways from over. Stay safe.
    P.S. Are there any rational reasons to not get vaccinated? I can’t think of a single one.

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