Yukon looks to lift isolation requirement for unvaccinated children

Yukon officials say the territory is "poised" to relax more pandemic-related restrictions in the coming weeks — including isolation requirements for unvaccinated children.

More COVID-19 restrictions to be lifted soon, health officials say

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brendan Hanley said Wednesday that more COVID-19-related restrictions in the territory will be lifted soon. (Alistair Maitland/Government of Yukon)

Yukon officials say the territory is "poised" to relax more pandemic-related restrictions in the coming weeks — including isolation requirements for unvaccinated children.

"The plan is that unvaccinated children under the age of 12 who are travelling with fully-vaccinated parents or caregivers will not need to isolate when they enter the territory," said Premier Sandy Silver at a news conference Wednesday morning.

Silver did not, however, offer a specific date for the change, saying only that it would happen "very, very soon," possibly this month. 

Right now, anybody not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 must isolate for 14 days on arrival in Yukon. As of last week, people who arrive in Yukon and can prove they're fully vaccinated don't need to isolate.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brendan Hanley, speaking alongside the premier, said lifting the isolation requirement for younger, unvaccinated children is "based on projections of declining risk of COVID exposure in Canada, and the corresponding low risk of acquisition by young children in the care of vaccinated caregivers."

Hanley also said the territory is "poised for further relaxation of our restrictions in the near future."

"We can increasingly see the light coming back into our world just as summer solstice draws near," he said.

Watch Wednesday's news conference here:

Vaccination rates vary by region

The territory currently has no active cases of COVID-19. The last new confirmed cases were announced more than three weeks ago.

Some public health restrictions have been eased as the vaccination rate continues to creep upward — although there's still a notable gap between the vaccination rates in different parts of the territory.

As of Monday, the territory's online vaccine tracker said 78 per cent of all eligible Yukoners had received at least one dose of the Moderna vaccine, and 70 per cent had received both shots.

However, the online tracker does not yet include youth in its count of "eligible Yukoners," though as of this week, anybody aged 12 and up in the territory can now get a shot.

The highest rate of vaccination among adults continues to be in the western part of the territory, where 84 per cent of those eligible had received one shot and 78 per cent had received both.

Yukon's COVID-19 vaccine tracker on Monday shows some stark differences in the vaccine rates for different regions of the territory. (Government of Yukon)

That's in stark contrast to the central territory, where barely more than half of eligible adults had been jabbed by Monday. In the region comprised of Faro, Carmacks, Braeburn, Pelly Crossing and Ross River, just 56 per cent had received their first shot and 51 per cent had received both. 

Numbers in the southeast are similarly low compared to elsewhere — with 62 per cent of eligible adults having had one shot, and 57 per cent having had both. 

Before this week, only Yukoners aged 18 and over could receive the Moderna vaccine. On Monday, the first clinics were held for youth aged 12 to 17 to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Hanley said Wednesday that the first youth clinics in Whitehorse have gone "swimmingly" so far, and a majority of appointments have already been booked.

"This is another forward step in our vaccination campaign," he said.

A government spokesperson said youth won't be counted in the territory's vaccination statistics until the first round of clinics is complete, later in June. 

With files from Steve Silva


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