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Yukon is 'well-prepared' for Moderna vaccine, could be approved this month says premier

Yukon is "well-prepared" for the arrival of the Moderna vaccine which could be approved by Health Canada this month, said Premier Sandy Silver on Tuesday.

The territory did a dry run for the vaccine's arrival from Europe last week

Premier Sandy Silver said Tuesday that the territory is anticipating Health Canada's approval of the Moderna vaccine this month. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

Yukon is "well-prepared" for the arrival of the Moderna vaccine which could be approved by Health Canada this month, said Premier Sandy Silver on Tuesday.

Silver and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brendan Hanley were speaking in their final weekly COVID-19 update of the year.

Silver said that though the territory is still awaiting Health Canada's approval of the Moderna vaccine, "we can anticipate that it will be approved this month."

"We have been preparing for the delivery of the vaccine, which could be a mere 48 hours after approval," said Silver.

He added that Whitehorse was chosen as one of five sites in Canada to do a dry-run practice for the delivery of the Moderna vaccine from Europe last week.

"We are well-prepared here in the territory to receive the vaccine when it becomes available," said Silver.

Hanley said on Tuesday that the practice run marks the completion of "another important preparatory step."

He said one of the advantages of having the Moderna vaccine in Yukon, is that the territory will be able to have a centralized depot in Whitehorse once it arrives.

"The shipment for Yukon will come into Whitehorse and be stored in the centralized location, and then the distribution will be with the mobile teams out to the communities," Hanley said.

Brendan Hanley, Yukon's chief medical officer of health, said Tuesday that the territory currently has no active cases of COVID-19. (Government of Yukon/Alistair Maitland)

He said teams are going over the logistics of delivering the vaccines outside of Whitehorse, and getting the supplies and training in place to prepare communities for the arrival of the mobile teams.

"It's critical that when the teams are there in the communities, that we're ready on the provider side and that the communities and the people are ready to go to receive the vaccine."

"Our teams have been dedicating themselves to ensuring success with the vaccine strategy, and each day we become more prepared for the arrival of vaccines in Yukon," Hanley said, adding that more details of what the rollout will look like will be made available in the new year. 

Earlier this month, the territory announced the Moderna vaccine for COVID-19 will begin arriving in the territory in January.

The territorial government's entire vaccine strategy can be found here.

Hanley said that as of Tuesday there were no known active cases of COVID-19 in Yukon, and that the territory has now gone one week without any new cases "and with no further evidence of community transmission." 

But Silver said Yukoners must remain vigilant, and that Nunavut's first two COVID-19-related deaths over the weekend are a stark reminder of how serious the virus is.

"We remain in the grip of this pandemic and we cannot let our guard down," Silver said.

Missed Tuesday's news conference? Watch it here:

Staying safe over the holidays

Silver emphasized the importance of people following public health measures over the holidays.

If your guests leave before 14 days, your entire household will need to continue to self-isolate for three days following their departure and self-monitor for symptoms, Silver said.

"After three days, if no one in your household has symptoms and your departed guests do not have any symptoms either, you are free to leave your self-isolation."

If you are hosting someone from out-of-territory but do not want to isolate with your guest, you must stay 2 metres away from people who are not self-isolating, use a separate bathroom if possible, and don't share household items.

"I know that the holidays will be difficult this year because we are not gathering like we normally do but the last thing we want to do is to have a breakout of cases in the coming weeks just as vaccines start to arrive."

There will also be holiday closures of the COVID-19 Testing Assessment Centre and the drive-thru testing site in Whitehorse. The COVID-19 assessment centre will close at 4 p.m. on Dec. 24 and remain closed Dec. 25 and 26. The drive-thru testing centre will be closed from Dec. 25 to the 28 as well as on Jan. 1.

If you are having symptoms and want to be seen on either of those days, Hanley said people in Whitehorse can visit the emergency room at the Whitehorse General Hospital. Rural health centres will also be available for emergency consultation if necessary.

All of the Yukon government's holiday planning guidelines can be found here.

In total, the territory has tested 5,855 people for COVID-19, with eight test results that are still pending.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story listed holiday closure times of the COVID-19 Testing Assessment Centre and the drive-thru testing site in Whitehorse that have since been changed. The current story reflects those changes.
    Dec 23, 2020 11:01 AM CT

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