Second dose vaccination underway in Northern Quebec
Drop-in clinics opened Tuesday in most Cree communities
Residents of Northern Quebec Cree communities began receiving their second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, making them among the first in the province to receive shipments of a second dose.
"We have been fortunate in keeping the variants away from Eeyou Istchee, but our efforts as a collective will need to be maintained," said Cree Grand Chief Abel Bosum in a livestream update hosted last week, along with health officials, to get people ready for the launch of the second dose vaccination campaign.
As of Monday, 77 per cent of those eligible in the Cree communities had received their first dose, according to the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay.
We have been fortunate in keeping the variants away from Eeyou Istchee.-Abel Bosum, Cree Grand Chief
Drop-in vaccination clinics will be open seven days a week until April 20 and then by appointment after that, according to the health board website.
The goal is to get as many Cree vaccinated as possible before people head out to their bush camps for what is known as Goose Break in the Cree territory, where families head out to hunt the geese returning to the territory.
"The Cree health board recommends that people who have received the first dose also receive the second dose," said Marie-Jo Ouimet, the head of Cree public health.
Health officials are encouraging anyone who is already at their bush camp and has road access to come back for their second dose, but also say a second dose will still be available after the Goose Break holiday.
"If people who are at camps that are only accessible by airlift, they can wait and get their second dose when they return," said Dany Gauthier, assistant director of public health for the Cree health board.
Most of the Cree communities received their second doses of the Moderna vaccine on Monday.
The exception was the northernmost of the Cree communities of Whapmagoostui, which began its second dose vaccination campaign last Friday, in collaboration with the neighbouring Nunavik community of Kuujjuarapik.
The two communities are run as separate municipalities, but share a townsite. The vaccination campaign in Kuujjuarapik began on March 30, according to the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services Facebook page.
Cree leaders also said during the livestream that the community checkpoints, which have been in place in last spring, will remain in place for now.
"So far the leadership believes we need to maintain the gates until we know more about the outcome of the vaccination [campaign] and more about the variants," said Bosum.