Vaccination clinics for general population to open in Whitehorse March 1, online booking site crashes

COVID-19 vaccination clinics will be open to the general public in Whitehorse as of March 1, says Premier Sandy Silver. 

Next shipment of 16,100 Moderna vaccine doses expected to arrive Feb. 28

A COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Whitehorse is set to open for the general public March 1, after the next shipment of Moderna vaccine doses arrive. The clinics are held at the Whitehorse Convention Centre, and appointments can now be booked online. (Mark Evans/CBC)

COVID-19 vaccination clinics should be open to the general public in Whitehorse as of March 1, says Premier Sandy Silver. 

Silver spoke at a news conference on Thursday morning, alongside Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley.

"This is very good news for the Yukon. We've been waiting a long time to get to this stage, and I know that getting immunized will come as a relief to many," the premier said.

Silver said Yukon's next shipment of 16,100 Moderna vaccine doses — announced last week — is scheduled to arrive on Feb. 28.  

Vaccination clinics for the general population in Whitehorse were originally expected to open last week, but were postponed because of a slowdown in delivery of the vaccines. Yukon's last shipment was 2,700 doses smaller than originally expected.

Silver said the larger shipment later this month is the result of "intense negotiations" with Ottawa.

Doses of the Moderna vaccine stay cooled in a fridge. Yukon's next shipment of 16,100 doses is expected to arrive Feb. 28. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

"I think what happened was, the federal government remembered their commitment to Northern and Indigenous remote communities," Silver said.

Officials said Yukoners must book appointments for a vaccination at the Whitehorse clinics in March. Second doses will be administered four to six weeks later, Silver said.

By late Thursday morning, the government's online booking system had crashed and people who phoned about the Whitehorse clinics were being told to try again in a few hours.

As of Wednesday, 10,627 people in Yukon had received a first vaccine dose, and 917 people had received a second dose. Mobile vaccination clinics will be returning to Old Crow, Beaver Creek and Watson Lake in the coming days to administer second doses. 

2 recent cases

The territory has seen two new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the last week. They were the first new cases announced in Yukon in more than a month. Potential exposure notices were also issued for several locations over the last couple of weeks.

Hanley said Thursday morning there had been no further cases identified in connection with those exposure notices, or the two most recent cases.

"So I'd say we're looking pretty good, but there is the possibility in the next few days that we could have another case resulting," Hanley said. 

Miss Thursday's news conference? Watch it here:

When asked whether the two most recent cases might be COVID-19 variants, Hanley said they're still waiting on results but he was sceptical.

"Just because of the area of importation, where the exposure happened, is not an area where there are variants known to circulate. So it is a possibility, but I'd say it's a low possibility and we will know in the days to come."

Hanley was also asked about wastewater testing in Whitehorse. The government has tested some of Whitehorse's wastewater for the virus that causes COVID-19, according to internal documents and emails.

Hanley said that testing has been put on hold for now and may be revisited later.

"Right now wastewater [testing] is not high on our list, but I'm really pleased that we've done some of this initial feasibility work," he said. 

As of Wednesday, the territory had seen 72 cases in total, with 69 of them considered recovered. One person has died.



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