Youth vaccine turnout ‘good news’: Nunavut top doctor

639 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine administered in first 48 hours

As of Thursday, Nunavut has administered 639 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to youth, mostly in Iqaluit, seen here. (File photo by Emma Tranter)

By Dustin Patar

Even before NTI’s walk-in vaccination clinic officially opened on Wednesday afternoon, June 16, the line was already out the door and wrapped halfway down the length of Iqaluit’s curling rink. (File photo)

Nunavut may have only begun vaccinating youth between the ages of 12 and 17 on Tuesday, but the initial response has been positive, according to the territory’s chief public health officer.

During a news conference on Thursday morning, Dr. Michael Patterson, announced that 639 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had been administered in the first 48 hours, mostly in Iqaluit.

“That’s very good news,” he said.

In addition to Iqaluit, youth vaccination clinics have begun in Pangnirtung, Pond Inlet, Qikiqtarjuaq, Sanirajak, Resolute Bay, Naujaat, Clyde River, Igloolik and Arctic Bay. They will soon begin in Kugaaruk and Grise Fiord.

Vaccines should be delivered to all remaining communities by June 21, Patterson said.

As of Monday, 18,085 people in Nunavut have received a first dose of the Moderna vaccine and 15,169 are now fully vaccinated.

For the second day in a row, there were no new cases or recoveries reported in the territory.

There were eight active cases in Nunavut as of Thursday, all in Iqaluit.

For Patterson, this is encouraging, given the exposure notices issued at the end of last week and the positive cases confirmed in two students last week.

Although Nunavut’s youth vaccine turnout is off to a strong start, the territory’s overall vaccination rates have found their way into southern commentaries, such as a recent Globe and Mail editorial that noted that “Nunavut, despite its large and early supply of vaccines, has the lowest vaccination rate in the country.”

“My concern with editorials like that is that it's often interpreted as either the health-care staff have done something wrong, or Nunavummiut have done something different than other people in southern jurisdictions,” said Patterson.

“Neither of those are true.”

According to Patterson, the percentage of vaccine doses that Nunavut has received and has used is higher than most other jurisdictions. He also said that the territory's percentage of fully vaccinated residents is higher than many southern jurisdictions.

Government of Canada data, as of June 5, indicates that Nunavut ranked third in the country, behind Yukon and the Northwest Territories, in terms of the population fully vaccinated. However, according to that same federal data, Nunavut does rank last in terms of percentage of the population who have received at least one vaccine dose.

“There's a whole bunch of things that affect how likely a person or members of a group are to get the vaccine. Age is one of them,” said Patterson.

“The younger you are, the less likely you are to get the vaccine, and that's an obvious one that Nunavut is different from the other jurisdictions in Canada.”

Even with the territory’s teenage population now eligible for vaccination, just over one-quarter of Nunavummiut fall under the age of 12 and are currently not eligible for any vaccination.

Compared to provinces like Quebec or Manitoba, whose populations of youth under 12 account for roughly 14 per cent total population, the difference is noticeable.

For Patterson, the goal remains the same: “We want everybody who's eligible to get vaccinated.”

Community clinics for youth between the ages of 12 and 17 will continue through July.

In Iqaluit, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.’s mass vaccination clinic is ongoing through Saturday, June 19. The clinic, located at the curling rink, will also administer the Moderna vaccine to adults.

Outside of Iqaluit, Pfizer vaccinations will be available by appointment only. Those wishing to book an appointment can call their local health centre.

Unlike the Moderna vaccine, doses of the Pfizer vaccine are more difficult to transport and have a much shorter shelf life once they are unfrozen. Because of this the Government of Nunavut cannot guarantee that doses of that vaccine will be administered outside of the community clinic dates.

For a complete list of Pfizer vaccination clinics or for more information on the vaccine, visit the Government of Nunavut’s COVID-19 vaccine website.

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(7) Comments:

  1. Posted by Gump on

    Iqaluit strong!

  2. Posted by It will never end on

    I had a good laugh reading that it took an editorial from the Globe and Mail for Dr Patterson to finally admit that IT WILL NEVER END! He want ALL, as in 100%, eligible people to be vaccinated and then some.

  3. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    “According to Patterson, the percentage of vaccine doses that Nunavut has received and has used is higher than most other jurisdictions. He also said that the territory’s percentage of fully vaccinated residents is higher than many southern jurisdictions.”
    Dr. Patterson no doubt has access to more detailed information than is available to the general public but from the information that is available it is readily apparent that Nunavut is last in % of population 12+ with at least one dose at 61.8% and last in received doses administered at 55.0%. The last could be due to the recent shipment of Pfizer vaccines which have just begun to be administered however even prior to this shipment Nunavut was last in this category.
    Comparing the 3 territories for 12+;
    Yukon 87.1% (one dose), 75.5% (2 doses), 85.7% doses given
    NWT 81.3% (one dose), 69.6% (2 doses), 69.6% doses given
    Nunavut 61.8% (one dose), 52.0% (2 doses), 55.0% doses given
    – stats from CTV coronavirus vaccination website
    All 3 territories have had as much vaccine as they need for their adult and now 12+ populations. Nunavut is way behind the other territories and unless something changes, by the end of the summer Nunavut will be last in the country for every vaccination category.
    I noted in a comment last week that the GN and the MLAs need to take action now to improve the vaccination uptake among adults. I would suggest a number of actions; elders going on the radio relating their experience with the vaccine, and the need for everyone to get vaccinated, nurses and doctors to do the same, MLAs going door to door, vaccination workshops in each community where people can ask questions one on one with a medical professional (with translators hired by the GN if the medical professional does not speak Inuktitut.
    And I really hate to resort to bribing people to do something that they should do anyways but a $50 or $00 dollar voucher at Northern or the Coop for each person getting a second dose, plus a territory wide lottery for a snowmobile or 4 wheeler, again everyone who gets a second dose is eligible. Have the draw at the end of the summer, and weekly prizes until the main draw.
    Also have mayors challenge other communities as to who will have the greatest percentage of eligible people vaccinated by Labour Day (requires the GN to release community stats).
    I’m sure that the good readers of Nunatsiaq News have hundreds of ideas, let’s hear them, and then let your MLA know.
    The GN also needs to communicate a target. What’s the best guess for herd immunity – 80%, 85%, maybe even 90% for the delta variant? I realize that we don’t know for sure, but let’s have a target!
    I’m fully vaccinated (Moderna second dose this past Tuesday) and I can tell you that it is a relief knowing that I can go out shopping in 10 days and not have to worry about getting sick and dying – that’s provided Doug Ford doesn’t impose another mockdown.

    • Posted by The Old Lottery on

      Let’s bring up the 3 million dollar lottery!!!

  4. Posted by Northern Guy on

    Vaccine hesitancy remains strong in some of Nunavut’s communities. Places like Igloolik and Coral Harbour are lagging significantly behind the larger centers. Unfortunately it will likely take a serious community outbreak to change some people’s minds.

  5. Posted by John K on

    This is great news! From what I’ve been told it’s my understanding that science denial is much less prevalent in this age group.

    • Posted by I agree on

      I agree, this age group thanks to online information has a better understanding about the benefits of getting vaccinated than a lot of adults that base their hesitation on fear and religious beliefs.


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