Nearly half of adults in Nunavut now fully vaccinated
‘The vaccine works and we want everybody to get it,’ says Dr. Patterson
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.