Nunavut begins COVID-19 vaccinations

“This is a major milestone along Nunavut’s path”

The first 3,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Iqaluit on Dec. 30. Another 3,000 doses have been delivered to Rankin Inlet. Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, says that he expects the next shipment of vaccines to arrive before the end of January. (Photo by Dustin Patar)

By Dustin Patar

Nunavut will give out its first COVID-19 vaccinations today to elders in Iqaluit.

Then, as the next step, vaccinations will be offered next week to residents in Gjoa Haven, Igloolik, Cambridge Bay and Arviat, in an effort to protect communities with long-term elder care facilities.

“This is a major milestone along Nunavut’s path and one that we are excited about,” said Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, during the first COVID-19 news conference of the year on Tuesday, Jan. 5.

“Immunization is voluntary but I do encourage as many eligible Nunavummiut as possible to take the vaccine. It is currently the best protection Nunavummiut can have.”

The first 6,000 doses of the vaccine arrived in the territory last week, but Patterson said that only 3,000 of those will initially be administered, because the Moderna vaccine requires a second dose between 28 and 30 days after the first one.

“This will ensure that the necessary doses are available if the second shipment of the vaccine, expected later this month, is delayed,” said Patterson.

Nunavut’s early vaccination efforts focus on communities with long-term elder care facilities, because the virus poses a greater risk to older adults.

“It’s important to get them protected as quickly as we can,” said Patterson.

Here is Nunavut’s current COVID-19 vaccination schedule:

  • January 6: Elders facility in Iqaluit
  • January 11-12: Gjoa Haven and Igloolik
  • January 14-18 (excluding Sunday): Arviat
  • January 14-16: Cambridge Bay

Patterson asked that residents in these communities call their health centre to book an appointment.

For Nunavummiut who have received a flu shot, the process will be mostly familiar, except that the vaccines will be administered at facilities such as school gymnasiums and community halls, to allow residents to practise physical distancing.

Patterson estimates that nurses will be able to administer between eight and 12 doses an hour.

Health staff will return to these communities four weeks later to administer the second doses of the vaccine.

If residents miss a vaccination session, Patterson said that there will be some supply of the vaccine left in most communities where it has already been administered.

Additional vaccination clinics will be scheduled based on additional vaccine shipments and remaining doses from previous clinics, Patterson said.

Patterson said he expects the next shipment of vaccines to arrive before the end of January.

“The next set of criteria we’re looking at will be communities that have a greater risk of introduction of COVID-19 [and] greater difficulty accessing medical care,” he said.

Patterson says that by the end of March, Nunavut should receive around 19,000 doses, enough to vaccinate 75 per cent of the adult population.

As of Dec. 30, the outbreak of COVID-19 in Rankin Inlet was declared over and restrictions there were eased.

Nunavut recently declared itself COVID-19 free, but health officials continue to urge residents to take precautions.

For more information regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, including community-specific information and vaccination schedules, visit the Government of Nunavut’s website.

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(9) Comments:

  1. Posted by George on

    THIS is your “plan”?

    The NWT government has created a list for EVERY community with exact dates then they can expect the vaccine and how it will be prioritized. Obviously, Nunavut is incapable of doing the same. The level of incompetence in Nunavut is mind-blowing!

    By the way, the web page link in the last paragraph of the story does not provide any useful information for any but the four communities listed in the story. What about the other 21 communities?

    • Posted by boris pasternak on

      No plan ever worked perfectly. WW II, the war was plan even to the number of toilet paper and k rations but upon the first shot; the five year war plans were thrown out the window. Just be happy somebody is trying something.

  2. Posted by Qavvigarjuk on

    I am very disappointed that all elders across all Nunavut communities will not be getting the vaccine starting next week. By the looks of it, some will not get the vaccine until end of March since you are doing this by community instead. That is unacceptable. While Rankin Inlet has a hospital, we are the hub, therefore more vulnerable to getting the infection from people traveling through from all over the country. We already have had 19 cases of Covid here. There also may still be assymptomatic covid people out here as evidenced of what happened in Whale Cove before xmas after the community was declared covid free. Two cases showed up there. Just the fact that we have a hospital here , they still cannot handle Covid patients and would be sent south like any other community. We are a large community, another reason to vaccinate us soon. Many people have been unemployed here from our near by mines since last March which is creating hardship to families. The sooner we are vaccinated the sooner the workers can return back to work. Please take this into consideration as well. Not all people working at the mine are getting 75% salary. All contractors are not and getting EI instead that will expire in March. This will create a lot of hardship for families. t takes about a month for antibodies to build up in our bodies to protect us against the virus.

  3. Posted by Blind on the path on

    Give the vaccine to patients instead of front line workers first? Hold back half the vaccines when more are due to arrive? Don’t give any indication when Iqaluit will be done? Don’t say how the vaccine will be prioritized outside communities? Don’t say how many nurses are available to do 40-100 vaccines a day when we need 19000? How will you meet the target of 38000 administrations of vaccine before March? Don’t explain why you spent the last 10 days sitting on the vaccine? Don’t comment on whether you’ll be given vaccine travel pass when done?
    Please call in the armed forces to do this and please resign.

  4. Posted by Misery everywhere on

    The misery in these comments is amazing, really.

  5. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    Everyone take a deep breath. This is just the first information about vaccination schedules. It makes sense.
    I hope that it does include front line medical personnel. Right now the priority is on communities with elder care centres, which makes sense as that is the largest risk.
    I expect the next step to be seniors and at risk people in other communities or a community by community vaccination program. Personally I think that a community by community approach makes the most sense. Fly in nurses, GN record keeping, vaccines do the whole community in 1 or 2 days. Then on to the next. Come back in 3 weeks for the second dose.
    The travel restrictions, quarantine hubs, will continue to be the primary defense until the majority of the adult population is vaccinated.
    Be glad that most of Nunavut should be done by the end of March. In Ontario it may take me until September to get my shots.

  6. Posted by Consistency on

    So on the media update today 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 40% of our population is under 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.
    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.

    • Posted by anon on

      Both Pfizer and Moderna are working on US clinical trials for children from 12-18. After those trials are complete the companies will have to get the vaccines approved through Health Canada, the same process as the adult one.

  7. Posted by Daryl Diamond on

    Be smarter than southern Canadians. Get doses to very old first, health care workers second.

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