N.W.T. now vaccinating non-resident mine workers

The Northwest Territories is now vaccinating non-resident workers who are on rotation at mining and petroleum projects.

The vaccine expansion will come at no additional cost to the N.W.T., officials say

Vaccines are now available to non-resident workers who are on rotation at select mining and petroleum sites the N.W.T. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The Northwest Territories is now vaccinating workers on rotation at mining and petroleum projects who do not live in the territory.

The vaccinations started on March 12 and include workers at Imperial Oil in Norman Wells and the N.W.T.'s three diamond mines: Diavik, Ekati, and Gahcho Kué, a news release states.

"We've said since the beginning that non-resident workers not included in our initial priority groups are invited to email the [chief public health officer] to ask for an individual exemption," said Health Minister Julie Green.

"Though this still remains an option, I am glad to see that these large work sites have been added to the priority list which will ensure additional safety for NWT residents and communities."

Other non-resident rotational workers will be considered on a case-by-case basis by Dr. Kami Kandola, the territory's Chief Public Health Officer. 

"Increasing immunity at these work sites will protect residents, their families, and the communities N.W.T. residents return to between shifts — particularly the most remote and vulnerable communities with limited access to health care," the release states.

"Every dose given in the N.W.T. will continue to boost the territory's overall defence against COVID-19."

The territory is ahead of schedule for first doses for all residents over the age of 18 in all 33 communities. 

Vaccinating non-resident workers won't affect the dose schedule for other residents, the release states. 

The territorial government requested 12,000 more doses from the federal government for non-resident workers, larger than its original allotment of 51,600 doses.

Any N.W.T. resident who missed the dose clinics in their community will also be offered the vaccine when teams visit the work sites, the release states. 

The territorial is "well-positioned" to get both doses of the vaccine to 75 per cent of adults by the end of April and will not incur any additional costs to vaccinate non-residents.