Northwest Territories residents with priority access to the Covid-19 vaccine can expect to receive their first doses in January.
Health minister Julie Green said on Wednesday the territory expects an initial 7,200 doses of Moderna’s vaccine to arrive by the end of December. That’s enough for 3,600 residents to receive the two required doses.
The territory has yet to publicize its vaccine rollout plan, which is now set to be finalized in early January. That document will detail priority groups and explain how the vaccine will reach residents in all 33 communities.
“There is still some work to do behind the scenes to get ready for the arrival of the vaccination and implementation of our plan,” Green said in a news release.
Krystal Pidborochynski, a spokesperson for the territorial government, told Cabin Radio the GNWT expects to administer the first doses to priority residents in the week beginning January 11, 2021.
NWT Chief Public Health Officer Dr Kami Kandola has said the vaccine will first go to elderly people, essential healthcare workers, and people living in communities with less access to health services.
The territory has two large freezers with enough space to store all of the NWT’s vaccine doses. One is located at Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife and the other at the Inuvik Regional Hospital.
The NWT has not yet received the smaller freezers in which doses will be stored in communities. Pidborochynski said those are expected to arrive before the new year.
Health officials expect the NWT to receive enough doses of the Moderna vaccine for every adult in the territory who wants one in 2021. The vaccine will not be mandatory but vaccination is strongly encouraged.
“NWT residents can be confident that top Canadian experts, scientists, and medical professionals carefully reviewed all of the scientific data and evidence for vaccine safety and effectiveness,” Green stated.
“Vaccine uptake will be especially important to protect those who cannot yet receive the Moderna vaccine, including residents who are pregnant, immunocompromised, or less than 18 years of age.”
NWT health officials have cautioned that even after the majority of the territory’s adults are vaccinated, pandemic restrictions will not be immediately lifted.
“We can see the finish line now, but we all still have a role to play in keeping our families and communities safe,” Green said.
Health Canada announced its approval of the Moderna vaccine on Wednesday morning. Studies have indicated the vaccine is 94.1-percent effective at preventing Covid-19.