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Yukoners aged 12 to 17 to get COVID-19 vaccine in coming weeks

Youth aged 12 to 17 will soon be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in Yukon, health officials said on Wednesday.

Territorial government aims to vaccinate all youth in this age category by mid-July

'We are developing a robust plan to deliver the Pfizer vaccine to our territory's youth,' said Health Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee on Wednesday. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

Youth aged 12 to 17 will soon be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in Yukon.

The announcement came during the government's weekly COVID-19 update on Wednesday.

Minister of Health and Social Services Tracy-Anne McPhee said that the territorial government struck a deal with the federal government to obtain enough Pfizer vaccine doses to get all Yukon youth 12 and up vaccinated.

"We are developing a robust plan to deliver the Pfizer vaccine to our territory's youth ... in the coming weeks our dedicated health professionals will be visiting nearly every Yukon community to host a youth vaccine clinic," McPhee said.

She said the plan will ensure youth can be fully vaccinated by mid-July.

Medical travel to Whitehorse or elsewhere will be supported for youth who are unable to attend the vaccine clinic in their community, said McPhee.

Health Canada approved the Pfizer-BioNtech shot for vaccinating children 12 and up on May 5. Youth aged 12 to 17 in the Northwest Territories started getting doses of that vaccine last week.

Yukon's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley said Wednesday that the territorial government expects the same approval to come through for the Moderna vaccine later this summer. To date, Yukon has only been administering doses of the Moderna vaccine.

On Tuesday, Yukon confirmed two new cases of COVID-19, bringing the territory's total case count to 84.

There is currently one active case in the territory.

Watch Wednesday's news conference here:

Government reports vaccination rates by community

McPhee also announced Wednesday that the territorial government will now release vaccination rate numbers for each community.

"We recognize that there are some communities and age groups with lower vaccination rates ... we are continuing to work with our partners in communities and First Nations on how to best address vaccine hesitancy on a community-by-community basis," McPhee said.

Haines Junction has the highest vaccination rate among communities in Yukon, with 81 per cent of the eligible population fully vaccinated as of May 1.

Ross River has the lowest vaccination rates by far in the territory, with only 28 per cent of the eligible population there fully vaccinated at the beginning of this month. 

The second-lowest vaccination rate is in Pelly Crossing at 43 per cent of the eligible population, as of May 1.

As of Monday, 26,583 Yukoners — about 74 per cent of all eligible adults — had received their first dose of the Moderna vaccine, while 23,253 — about 66 per cent of eligible adults — had received both doses.

Easing of restrictions

Last week, Premier Sandy Silver announced Yukon will later this month drop the 14-day self-isolation requirement for anybody arriving in the territory who can prove they've been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Silver said anybody whose vaccination status cannot be confirmed will still need to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival in Yukon.

Silver also announced another change coming later this month — bars and restaurants will be able to return to full capacity for indoor service, starting May 25.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brendan Hanley, speaking alongside Silver last Wednesday, said the changes are possible because of Yukon's high rate of vaccination. 

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