Residents and staff at two Northwest Territories long-term care homes began receiving Covid-19 vaccinations on New Year’s Eve, the territorial government said.
The first people in the NWT to receive vaccinations were those living or working at the Jimmy Erasmus Seniors Home in Behchokǫ̀ and Aven Manor in Yellowknife.
A day earlier, the territory’s chief public health officer had announced vaccinations were being brought forward for those in long-term care homes, though individuals and their families would be given time to provide informed consent first.
Remaining priority groups in the NWT will begin receiving vaccinations in the week beginning January 11.
Those priority groups are Elders aged 60 and over, people with pre-existing medical conditions, essential workers, and people living in remote communities where healthcare services are limited.
The territorial government has yet to precisely define which pre-existing medical conditions will qualify an individual for priority access to the vaccine, or outline the process by which those people will be invited to attend a vaccination session.
On Thursday, the NWT government said “conditions like chronic lung, kidney, or heart disease” or conditions requiring medical travel outside the territory were examples. Cabin Radio has requested a full list of qualifying conditions.
The essential workers group will include front-line healthcare workers. People who live in the NWT but regularly work outside the territory or alongside out-of-territory workers – for example, at the NWT’s diamond mines – will also be given priority in a bid to prevent transmission to others in their home communities.
“These priority groups will receive the vaccination in a phased approach that will be expanded to the entire eligible NWT population as supply increases. The GNWT continues to work towards a target of March 2021 for completion of our vaccination rollout,” the territorial government said in a statement.
Nurses were accompanied by interpreters at the two long-term care homes visited on Thursday. The territory has said Elders must be given the opportunity to understand and consent to the vaccination in their own language.
Julie Green, the NWT’s health minister, said she was “excited about the months ahead” as vaccination began, urging all eligible residents to support efforts toward herd immunity by getting the vaccine when it becomes available to them.
Each vaccination requires two doses of Moderna’s vaccine, given four weeks apart. The territory currently has 7,200 doses at its disposal – enough for 3,600 residents – with a second delivery due at the end of January.