Nearly half of adults in Nunavut now fully vaccinated

‘The vaccine works and we want everybody to get it,’ says Dr. Patterson

During a COVID-19 news conference on Wednesday morning, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, announced that nearly half of all eligible adults in the territory are now fully vaccinated. (Photo by Dustin Patar)

By Dustin Patar

Nearly half of Nunavut’s adult residents have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, says the territory’s chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson.

“A large number of Nunavummiut are very well protected from COVID-19,” Patterson said at a news conference Wednesday.

“Looking at other jurisdictions that have been able to vaccinate the majority of even just adults, they’ve been able to show that it has a significant impact on ending transmission or ending outbreaks earlier,” he said.

Despite this, Patterson cautioned that the midst of an outbreak is not the time to think about changes to current public health measures.

Patterson said that research shows that the Moderna vaccine is effective against the more contagious B117 strain of the virus, otherwise known as the U.K. variant, which accounts for at least 21 of the positive cases in Iqaluit.

“The vaccine works and we want everybody to get it,” said Patterson, adding that although there are people who have become infected with the virus after receiving a dose, they were not fully vaccinated.

“Vaccine failure is getting an infection two weeks after the second dose,” said Patterson.
“There has not been an incident of that happening in Nunavut.”

Those who would like to book a vaccination appointment can call their local health centre.

It’s almost four months since the territory received its first vaccine shipments on Dec. 30. To date, 15,528 residents have received the first dose of their vaccine and 12,285 are now fully vaccinated.

Wednesday’s announcement comes as six new cases were reported in the capital city where there are now 46 active cases of the virus.

While most of those cases are adults, Patterson did confirm that there has been at least one positive case, but less than five, where the individual or individuals were younger than 18 years old.

In addition to new cases, five more Iqaluit residents have recovered from the virus, bringing the total number of recoveries in the community to 31.

No new cases or recoveries are being reported in Kinngait or Rankin Inlet, where there are two active cases remaining in both communities.

There are now 50 active cases in the territory and contact tracing is ongoing.

While links are known between almost all cases, there remains one individual, who was first identified on April 23, who contact tracing teams have yet to connect to other cases.

Although Patterson called this particular case “an event of community transmission,” he clarified that it would not be appropriate to use that term to describe the overall situation in Iqaluit right now.

According to Patterson, there are no known cases that stem from the person.

Surveillance testing of certain groups and facilities, including taxi drivers, men’s shelters, the elders centre, staff at the boarding home and hospital and some correctional facilities, is ongoing.

Despite that work, Patterson said that teams are roughly four days behind and “still playing catch up.”

“We’re finding transmission events after they’ve occurred and we’re still isolating a number of people after they’ve been exposed,” said Patterson.

“We’ll know that we’ve caught up when the majority, if not all of the people, who are developing COVID-19 infections are already in isolation at the time that they become symptomatic or have a positive test.”

Iqaluit has been in lockdown since April 14, after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed.

Schools, bars and non-essential businesses are all closed. Restaurants are operating as takeout only and residents are working from home.

“Though this variant spreads more easily than the original strain of the virus, other jurisdictions have been able to control the spread with public health measures,” said Patterson.

“These measures will work for Nunavut as well.”

If residents believe that others are breaking these public health orders, the appropriate next step is to call the local RCMP, Patterson said.

As of Wednesday’s news conference, Patterson wasn’t aware of any violations resulting in charges during the current outbreak.

Any resident of Nunavut who thinks they may have been exposed to COVID-19 is asked to call a hotline at 1-888-975-8601 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. eastern time.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include sore throat, runny nose, new or worsening cough, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, muscle ache, loss of taste and smell, tiredness, fever or upset stomach.

Given the current amount of phone calls being received, Patterson cautioned Nunavummiut that there will be a wait period before getting through.

“We’d ask people to not call the hotline unless it’s necessary and please be patient,” he said.

For updated information and resources on COVID-19 visit the Government of Nunavut’s website.

Televised COVID-19 updates will continue this week on Friday at 11 a.m. eastern time.

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(10) Comments:

  1. Posted by Confused on

    I’m confused. I’ve had my 2 vaccinations and I went for testing and was told that having the vaccinations doesn’t matter. I tested negative by the way

    • Posted by anon on

      They have to test every contact, vaccinated or not, because if they don’t, they leave gaps in the contact tracing, and because there have been rare cases of people becoming infected after being vaccinated.

  2. Posted by Take Notice on

    The last thing our communities need are people informing on each other.

    “There is a popular maxim in common law systems, “everything which is not forbidden is allowed”. The idea is that in liberal democracies we are inherently and naturally free to do anything, so long as it is not expressly prohibited by law.”

    There is a slow loss of freedoms and liberties here that we need to take notice of. What does the end of the pandemic look like? How long until we see the RCMP/Military at airports?

    • Posted by boris pasternak on

      lighten up you civil libertarian, I rather face few rules then to get sick. have you not seen India on the news? Have you not notice almost 600 thousand Americans have died? almost 25 thousand Canadians??? did you not see in India ppl gasping for air? died on the spot due to suffocation?? for a small capita, 4 have died in Nunavut, do u want to upped that statistic?

    • Posted by Observer on

      Someone loudly shouting about “personal freedom” is often doing so because they don’t want to take personal responsibility. When your freedom (“I don’t need to obey any stinkin’ health measures!”) threatens the live of others because of your inability to think about anyone other than yourself, your freedom to be a jerk is directly interfering with the freedom of others not to get sick and possibly die.

  3. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    Scientists still haven’t done all the necessary studies to see the amount of “protection” the vaccine affords to an individual. The vaccine producers start with lab tests, and then progress to real world “trials”, but these are usually small scale from a few thousand to 200,000 people. Don’t forget that we are talking about vaccinating not millions, but billions of people.
    The efficacy of the Moderna vaccine is 94.5% from the vaccine trial (which was held before most variants became widespread). That means that out of 100 people vaccinated just over 5 people contracted coronavirus. Now some of these may have been after 1 doses so the efficacy may be more than 94.5%. Real world studies back up these numbers.
    But here is the real important fact. Of fully vaccinated people (both doses) 100% are protected from serious illness and hospitalization. That means that if your are one of the 5.5% that still catches coronavirus after you are vaccinated the protection offered by the vaccine still prevents it from being a serious illness requiring hospitalization and a possible stay in the ICU, intubation, and death.
    Bottom line, get the vaccine as soon as possible, and don’t forget to get the second dose. It really does work. Look at a place like Gibraltar. In a population of 33,700, which is fully vaccinated (95% with 2 doses) they have zero cases of Covid-19.
    If everyone in Nunavut gets their vaccinations then there is no reason why Nunavut cannot go back to normal.

    • Posted by hermann kliest on

      How do we get back to normal with fear mongers? They think they are going to turn into monkeys, or to receive a mark of the beast…or just too ignorant to get a shot. this is what lack of education does to ppl. voodoo thinking and medicine. heard at one point that drinking cow’s piss is a remedy in parts of the third world, this is a fix that will be use by non-believers of modern medicine. BUT, how will you herd a whole lot of caribou to get their “medicines?”

      • Posted by The Old Trapper on

        I hear you. My own brother is not getting the vaccine and he has told me that the mRNA vaccines will change your DNA (totally not true). He is a well educated person – unfortunately he considers himself an expert at many areas outside his actual expertise.
        We have to use every argument that we have to encourage people to get vaccinated. This will include;
        – easy to understand explanation of how vaccines work.
        – point to past success with vaccines, polio, measles.
        – public persuasion campaigns
        – peer pressure, encourage family & friends
        – monetary encouragement
        If the above does not work then we may need to go one more step;
        – shunning of the unvaccinated
        – withholding of services or payments (this works with children not being able to attend schools unless they are vaccinated).
        There will always be people that decide that they know better than the thousands of scientists that are studying Covid-19. They would rather believe some Facebook idiot, or even some quack doctor. I would have no problem with banning these people from public places, (businesses, offices, transit, etc.) as they present a very real danger to you and I. The government won’t do it because of “right” and “freedoms”, but there is also something called “responsibilities”, and this is a once in a 100 year pandemic, normal rules don’t apply.’
        If Covid-19 were to turn more deadly (say like Ebola) I think that you would see a rapid change of opinion, but it is hard for governments to admit their mistakes (Justin Trudeau, Doug Ford, Jason Kenney).

  4. Posted by Stevan Whitmore on

    In my own life time, there had been vaccines. Polio, measles, mumps and the dreaded small pox. Everybody got a vaccine! There was no such thing as anti-vaxxers. There were no conspiracy theories. Microchips had not been invented yet but trust me, I see no technical advantage to inserting a microchip into a vaccine! It is just a stupid idea. If someone could tell me how to build an electronic circuit that can interface with the human brain to control that brain then please tell me how it is done! Not even possible. Forget the microchip theory. It isn’t even possible. People were so happy to get vaccinated. It meant that the children will not end up in “iron lungs” because of paralysis. It meant that you will not see people with useless diminutive limbs, arms or legs that do not grow with the rest of the body. Polio can leave us malformed, crippled or paralyzed. We do not see this any more and children do not suffer slow death anymore from polio in this country because of vaccine. A vaccine is a good thing. Small pox was a terrible disease that ravaged the body and scarred faces. This ugly disease was completely eradicated with Vaccine! Vaccine saved all of humanity from small pox. It no longer exists in the wild. Stop this stupidity! Get a shot please.
    Be part of the solution not part of the problem.

  5. Posted by nunalialaaq on

    A Lot of the small communities are still waiting for their first and second Vaccines.

    Many were put on a waitlist, calling the health center to find out if they know when the vaccines are coming in, they have no idea.

    GN, and health minister please update all the health centers as a lot are still waiting.

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