Nunavik elders eager to be immunized

“There was never any doubt in my mind that I would get the vaccination”

Christina Gordon, 94, was one of the first in Nunavik to receive her COVID-19 vaccination Jan. 19 in Kuujjuaq. (Photo by Allen Gordon)

By Sarah Rogers

Nunavik elders are quickly filling up appointments to be immunized, as the region administers its first batch of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine this week.

The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services distributed its first shipment of 1,000 vaccines to all 14 communities on Jan. 16, where they are destined for elders’ homes, health-care workers and Nunavimmiut 70 years of age and older.

Nunavik health officials initially said the region wasn’t in a rush to get its immunization campaign started. Now that it’s underway, the region’s most vulnerable population is eager to get their shots — and it might be experience prompting that response.

Johnny May, 75, received his vaccination Jan. 18 in Kuujjuaq, in a makeshift clinic outside the Tulattavik Health Centre.

“I’m not a lover of needles, but I went there, and I rolled up my sleeve,” May said.

“I follow the news pretty closely and so on, and I was more than 100 per cent ready,” he said. “There was never any doubt in my mind that I would get the vaccination.”

May said he’s heard a lot of skepticism from community members who are wary of the vaccine, largely from a younger generation of Nunavimmiut.

“Elders seem to be more inclined to want to be immunized,” he said.

Allen Gordon said health care workers contacted Nunavimmiut over the age of 70 last week to invite them to come in to be vaccinated. He took his mother, Christina Gordon, to be vaccinated on Jan. 19.

At 94, his mother has lived through a number of deadly outbreaks in Nunavik: measles, whooping cough and tuberculosis.

“When I first mentioned to her that there is the new vaccine, without hesitation, she said, ‘I want to be safe and take it,’” Gordon said.

The very first Nunavimmiut to receive the shot Jan. 17 was Kuujjuaq elder Johnny Watt, 94, a resident at Tusiajiak Elders Home.

In the 1950s, Watt helped deliver the measles vaccines to camps and settlements in Nunavik by dogsled team.

Nunavik’s health board has said that a second round of doses would be distributed in March or April.

Moderna recommends administering that second dose within 28 days of the first.

But due to scaled-back deliveries of vaccine to Canada, the Quebec government said last week that it could only commit to providing a second dose within 90 days.

The health board expects the next batch of vaccines to arrive in the region at the beginning of February. Nunavik’s second priority group to receive the vaccine includes all health-care workers and first responders, adults with chronic diseases and any Nunavimmiut who are older than 55.

By mid-February, the health board plans to open immunization clinics for the general population.

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(4) Comments:

  1. Posted by Something not right on

    It’s interesting how some younger otherwise healthy individuals in kuujjuaq received the vaccine, while many over 65, and a bit younger with chronic health issues , cancer survivors with issues, and the list goes on, that were not called in to receive the vaccine. I think there should be an investigation as to why this has happened. It’s the talk of the town, and it’s not just talk . This is unacceptable and incompetent on someone’s part.

  2. Posted by All heard the names called on FM on

    Everyone heard the names being called on FM radio, informing who was to be vaccinated. Some of those names called made no sense as to why they would be called to be vaccinated in the category, first phase. There were significant number with no ties to essential workers, as to be in the threat line to get Covid or to pass it to a vulnerable person. It appears there were too many called like this, thereby leaving out the most needed or vulnerable. It was like watching the movie Titanic, where some able bodied people took to the life rafts, pushing their way , before women and children. What a ridiculous behaviour, and who was calling from what criteria? The hospital and Health regional board should answer to this. Notice a few relatives of certain so so, called.

  3. Posted by Concerned beneficiary member on

    Hudson Bay coast didn’t get theirs.
    More likely all went to Kuujjuaq.
    That town Kuujjuaq deserves to be last in everything from now on.

    • Posted by Where the greedy lives on

      Kuujjuaq is famous for several colonial aspects. Greed is a major living thing. So is denial and pretending to be. I lived through a Christmas in kuujjuaq and was taken back by the 20 dollar guessing games on fm by the rec committee. It’s like colonial illness that was passed down and took a life of its own. I’m sure lots of fear that comes from these behaviour, and covid illness makes it gone alive to a truthful thing

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