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Nunavut vaccinations start in Iqaluit Wednesday at elders' centre

Vaccination for COVID-19 will begin in Nunavut Wednesday starting with the elders' centre in Iqaluit, the territory's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson said Tuesday.

Arviat, Igloolik, Gjoa Haven and Cambridge Bay to see vaccines next week

Premier Joe Savikataaq speaks at an update on government response to COVID-19 at the Legislative Assembly. The Nunavut government reported it has zero active cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday. (Jackie McKay/CBC)

Vaccination for COVID-19 will begin in Nunavut on Wednesday, starting with the elders' centre in Iqaluit, says the territory's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson.

He made the comments Tuesday during a news conference at the Legislative Assembly during the government's first COVID-19 update of the new year.

There will also be vaccinations taking place in Arviat, Gjoa Haven, Igloolik and Cambridge Bay starting next week. These will be community clinics and "focused vaccinations" in long term care homes, Patterson said. Front-line health staff will also be vaccinated. Residents will need an appointment to receive the vaccine.

Communities with long term care centres were chosen first, to have elders protected sooner, he said.

There are enough vaccines for 3,000 residents to be inoculated in this first round, Patterson said. 

Last week, Nunavut received 6,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine. Of those, 3,000 arrived in Iqaluit and the other half to Rankin Inlet. Shipments are expected "every other week" Patterson said at the time. 

Schedule released

The territory will hold the remaining 3,000 doses in case a shipment later this month is delayed. The Moderna vaccine is administered in two doses and is most effective if the second dose is given between 28 to 30 days later, Patterson said.

Short term community clinics are the most efficient way to offer vaccines to Nunavut's 25 fly-in communities, Patterson said. 

"This is a major milestone along Nunavut's path," he said. "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 against COVID-19." 

Dates scheduled so far for community vaccinations, by appointment, are: 

  • Gjoa Haven: Jan. 11 and Jan. 12 at the Qiqirtaq High School from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Second doses are on Feb. 8 and Feb. 9.
  • Igloolik: Jan. 11 and Jan. 12 at the Iglulik High School from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Second doses are on Feb. 8 and Feb. 9.
  • Arviat: Jan. 14 to Jan. 18 (except Sunday) at the Qitiqliq Middle School from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Second doses are on Feb. 11 to Feb. 15. 
  • Cambridge Bay: Jan. 14 to Jan. 16, location to be determined, from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Second doses are on Feb. 11 to Feb. 13.  

For the next round of vaccinations after Jan. 18, Patterson said communities will be chosen based on the level of risk of COVID-19 entering the community, the access a community has to medical support and the number of doses that are received.

Missed the update? Watch it here:

More vaccines in March

By the end of March, the territory expects to receive enough vaccines to inoculate 19,000 residents. That's around 75 per cent of the eligible adult population. 

There are no new cases of COVID-19 reported in Nunavut on Tuesday. The territory has reported it has zero active cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday, but officials are still warning of outbreaks. The territory has had a total of 266 cases since the start of the pandemic, with 265 people recovered and one who died.

Five Nunavummiut have died because of COVID-19, Premier Joe Savikataaq said. Of those residents, four contracted the virus in southern Canada, he said, adding it's "likely" their death will be reported in those regions.

But exactly how deaths are counted for Nunavut residents who contract COVID-19 outside of the territory is still being decided between the territory and other provinces, Patterson said. This includes the recent death of a new mother from Sanikiluaq who contracted COVID-19 while on medical travel for childbirth. 

As of Dec. 30, the outbreak in Rankin Inlet is over. Whale Cove and Arviat are still considered to be in an outbreak, though there are no current active cases. 

There are updates scheduled for each Tuesday and Thursday in the next two weeks.

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