Nunavik residents ‘largely unprotected’ from COVID-19, says health board
As of July 10, just 36 per cent of Nunavimmiut aged 12 and up have had 2 vaccine doses
Thirty-six per cent of Nunavik residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to latest numbers from Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services.
The board released new data last week, which show the percentage of Nunavimmiut aged 12 years and up who’ve received two doses of a vaccine as of July 10.
“Nunavimmiut are largely unprotected from COVID-19,” said NRBHSS spokesperson Josee Levesque in a July 29 news release from the board.
“Extremely contagious variants are on the rise in many countries and in certain regions of Canada.”
Health officials launched the region’s first vaccine campaign in mid-January, followed by mass immunization clinics in Nunavik’s 14 communities through the month of February.
The goal was to immunize 75 per cent of the region’s population by the end of March.
Immunization levels vary greatly among Nunavik’s 14 communities: 62 per cent of Kuujjuaraapik residents have been fully vaccinated while just 22 per cent of Akulivik residents have.
Levesque said the vaccine is still available to those who want it. Since the spring, most health centres in the region have continued to offer vaccinations by appointment.
In June, Nunavik health officials lifted a mandatory quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated Nunavimmiut flying into the region.
Health officials hope to target certain age groups in the region as the summer winds down and people return to their communities and schools.
The board will be offering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to Nunavimmiut aged 12 to 17 in a targeted youth clinics as well, starting throughout the region at the end of the month.
Also, two teams from Quebec’s Red Cross are set to visit the region’s communities with the lowest vaccine coverage starting Aug. 16. Those communities are Puvirnituq, Inukjuak, Akulivik, Salluit, Kangisujuaq, Umiujaq, Quaqtaq and Kangirsuk.
Red Cross workers will be targeting immunization among Nunavimmiut aged 55 and older.
Sixty-two per cent of that age group, considered to be at highest risk of impacts from the virus, have received two doses of a vaccine against COVID-19.
Carole Du Sault, a spokesperson for Quebec’s Red Cross, said this will be the third time the Nunavik health board has requested the organization’s help with its vaccine rollout since the beginning of the pandemic.
Red Cross teams have worked in a number of Quebec communities and regions, helping with immunization clinics, in long-term care homes and training army members to work in both of those settings.
“In Nunavik, our support has been with logistics; to help install the clinics and do some community engagement,” Du Sault said.
“We’re asking people: is there a way to help you make a decision? Is there something you’d like to know?”
The Red Cross will deploy two teams to work in the region, she said, made up of staff who have worked in the region before and at least one Inuktitut speaker.
There are currently two active cases of COVID-19 in the region, both in Aupaluk, linked to an individual travelling from the south.
There have been 44 COVID-19 cases recorded in the region since the beginning of the pandemic and two deaths.
Wearing a mask in closed public spaces continues to be mandatory, the health board said.
Health officials also encourage Nunavimmiut to wash their hands frequently, keep a two-metre distance from others and to stay home if flu-like symptoms present.