NTI hopes to boost Inuit vaccination rates at clinic, president says

Indigenous northerners in territorial capitals less likely to report getting vaccinated than non-Indigenous northerners, StatCan survey suggests

NTI’s upcoming COVID-19 vaccination walk-in clinic in Iqaluit is set to run Wednesday to Saturday at the curling rink. (Photo by Spencer Davis on Unsplash)

By Dustin Patar

Good information in Inuktut could help overcome COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among Inuit, says Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. president Aluki Kotierk, as its clinic in Iqaluit prepares to open Wednesday.

“There are people that have vaccination hesitancy and I recognize that it’s a personal choice,” she said in an interview, “but I think part of addressing that is to provide good information in Inuktut.”

NTI’s vaccination clinic runs from Wednesday to Saturday at the curling clinic. It will be open from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. and will offer the Moderna vaccine to people 18 years and older as well as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for youth between the ages of 12 and 17.

“We’re hoping that there will be a lot of Inuit uptake of the vaccines,” Kotierk said.

NTI has been working with the Nunatsiavut government to have some of its Inuit nurses help out with the clinic alongside Inuit nurses from Nunavut, she said.

Indigenous northerners less likely to report getting vaccinated

Earlier this month, Statistics Canada released the results of a COVID-19 survey that found Indigenous northerners in territorial capital cities were roughly 20 per cent less likely to report getting vaccinated than non-Indigenous northerners.

The survey was conducted between March 15 and April 12, after all residents in each of the three territories aged 18 and older were eligible for a vaccine.

It asked adults in Iqaluit, Whitehorse and Yellowknife if they had been vaccinated and to share their knowledge and beliefs about the vaccines.

In the capitals combined, 83 per cent of non-Indigenous adults reported that they had obtained at least one vaccination dose compared to 64 per cent of Indigenous adults.

Because of the small number of responses, StatCan said vaccination rates for Indigenous people cannot be published by capital city.

Non-Indigenous northerners making under $90,000 a year were 10 per cent less likely to be vaccinated than those earning more. At the same time, 85 per cent of those with a post-secondary degree received a first dose, compared to 68 per cent of residents with no post-secondary education.

The gaps for Indigenous northerners were larger.

Less than half of Indigenous adults without any post-secondary education had reported receiving a vaccine compared to 80 per cent of those with that education. Similarly, Indigenous northerners with higher incomes were 20 per cent more likely to be vaccinated than lower-income earners.

There were also differences in vaccine trust between Indigenous and non-Indigenous northerners.

Indigenous adults were more than twice as likely than non-Indigenous adults to express a distrust of COVID-19 vaccines because they were developed too quickly. At the same time, Indigenous adults were 10 per cent less likely to agree with the statement that, in general, vaccines are safe.

Although StatCan said that these numbers may explain some of the differences in vaccination rates, it also says that it does not account for the entirety of the gap because the reasons for not getting vaccinated are “numerous and complex.”

’We need to be prioritized’

Although Kotierk was not familiar with the findings of the Statistics Canada survey, she said that the vaccination numbers have never been clear, adding that this is even more the case now that the Government of Nunavut includes non-residents like rotational workers in its regularly updated vaccine statistics.

“More and more the question [became] ‘well, how many of the vaccinated individuals are Inuit and how many are not Inuit,’” she said.

“Part of the reason for thinking about that is because we advocated very strongly that as Inuit communities, we need to be prioritized to be given the vaccination because so many of us live under circumstances that would increase the possibilities of spreading COVID-19.”

On April 14, when the first case of COVID-19 was announced in Iqaluit, 13,877 Nunavummiut had received at least one dose of the Moderna vaccine and 10,015 had received both.

Two months later, on June 14, there were 18,009 people in Nunavut who had been given at least one dose of the vaccine with 15,808 fully vaccinated.

With the Pfizer vaccinations for youth across the territory beginning this week and continuing through July, those numbers are expected to go up, aided by the recent announcement that fully vaccinated travellers will no longer have to spend two weeks in an isolation hotel before entering the territory.

Share This Story

(7) Comments:

  1. Posted by Get vaccinated on

    Why aren’t people getting vaccinated? We’ve been given priority with vaccines so take FULL advantage of that. Save your life and every other person living up north. If you don’t get vaccinated and you get covid, where do you go? To the health centre or hospital. Get real sick, stay in a coma on a ventilator for how long, probably even die. All because you think the vaccine may affect your DNA or something… idk. But get f’n vaccinated. Everywhere else they have to wait until their age is eligible or are too poor to get vaccines. If you want to go south to eat a Big Mac and come back when you’re done shopping, get vaccinated. If we all get vaccinated everything will come back to normal. Wanna party? Hang out with friends? Get vaccinated!!!
    I got both shots. I’m still the same me, but maybe mightier than before. I can fight off covid if I contract it. Atii kapuqtaugittsi! Qanuinngittugu.

    • Posted by George on

      Why aren’t people getting vaccinated? A hint is right here on this web site. That yellow ad from the Government of Quebec says “even after being vaccinated you still need to protect yourself.” If the vaccine is not effective enough that you still need to wear a mask for the rest of your life then people will choose not to get it.

      • Posted by It will never end on

        George, you are right on target! The anti-vax are not the ones everyone think. Canadian politicians and public health officials don’t believe in science, THEY are responsible for the “low” vaccine uptake. (By the way all those at risk already have the vaccine, what do they want more? Will we have to wait until Africa is 99% vaccinated for Canada to reopen?) They are the one who can’t articulate and communicate a comprehensive strategy to end this non sense overcontrol
        of our life.

  2. Posted by Old Timer on

    So NTI is giving out $25 giftcard when 12 and over get vaccine in Iqaluit will ever kid in nunavut getting the $25 giftcard all so when vaccine is receiver ? I guess to keep it fair.

  3. Posted by Hmm on

    I find it interesting that the GN has not released any statistics about the percentage of Inuit who have vaccinated as opposed to other Nunavummuit.

    • Posted by Alignment Seems Likely on

      In Iqaluit anyway, anecdotes seem to align with the StatsCan report.

  4. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    Both of the vaccines used in Nunavut are mRNA vaccines, with the idea of using messenger RNA going back to 1989. Work was done on the vaccines during the original SARS outbreak in 2003 but the epidemic ended before the final vaccine was developed.
    Moderna was founded in 2010 and has been working on the mRNA vaccine since that time. While it’s true that Covid-19 is the first widespread use of the mRNA vaccines people need to know that years of research and testing have gone into the vaccines.
    Also there is no truth to the rumour that mRNA vaccines “change” your DNA – they can’t. The mRNA vaccine does it’s job stimulating the body’s immune system and T cells and then after a few days it is flushed from the system.


Comments are closed.