The NWT government has released the rough dates on which residents in each of the territory’s 33 communities can expect to receive their first dose of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine.
The territory issued its long-awaited vaccine rollout strategy on Tuesday afternoon, laying out a phased approach and tentative vaccination schedule.
According to that schedule, long-term care residents and staff in Fort Simpson, Fort Smith, Hay River, Inuvik, Norman Wells, and Yellowknife are receiving their first doses this week.
Next week, every adult resident who wants to be vaccinated in 11 NWT communities will have the opportunity to receive a shot. Those communities are Colville Lake, Jean Marie River, Łutsël K’é, Nahanni Butte, Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour, Sambaa K’e, Tsiigehtchic, Ulukhaktok, Wekweètì and Wrigley.
Members of priority groups in Dettah will also be vaccinated that week (January 11-17).
Priority groups are people:
- older than 60;
- with existing conditions like chronic lung, kidney, or heart disease;
- at greater risk of severe Covid-19 and its complications, for example by travelling outside the NWT regularly for medical treatment;
- more likely to transmit Covid-19 to those at high risk of severe illness and death, like healthcare workers or caregivers;
- live in the NWT but work regularly out of the territory or at work camps with out-of-territory workers; or
- in a remote community with limited health services.
From January 18 until the end of the month, priority groups in the remainder of the territory’s communities will have the opportunity to be vaccinated. The full list of communities and dates, likely to be refined over time, was published to the NWT health authority’s website.
The territory expects to begin administering second doses of the Moderna vaccine between February and March. (The vaccine requires two doses, four weeks apart.)
People who aren’t in any priority group, and who aren’t in one of the 11 communities mentioned above, will be able to get first doses beginning in February and March “as vaccine supply becomes available.” It could take until later in the year for all residents requesting the vaccine to receive it.
The territory said the schedule could change as plans and logistics are finalized.
The NWT expects to receive enough doses to immunize 75 percent of its adult population by the end of March.
The Moderna vaccine is not currently recommended for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding or those under the age of 18, with an autoimmune condition, or immunosuppressed due to disease or a treatment like chemotherapy.
The vaccine will be available free of charge and will not be mandatory in the NWT. However, health officials have long encouraged eligible residents to embrace vaccination against Covid-19.
“Vaccine uptake will be especially important to protect those who cannot yet receive the vaccine,” health minister Julie Green said in a statement.
“I will continue to advocate for the importance of residents to get their vaccine if they’re able to and play their part to protect our loved ones and our communities.”
The NWT received 7,200 doses of the Moderna vaccine on December 28. Residents at Aven Manor, a long-term care senior facility in Yellowknife, and Jimmy Erasmus Seniors Home in Behchokǫ̀ were the first to receive vaccinations in the territory on New Year’s Eve.
The territorial government now plans to send teams of nurses to help communities administer the vaccine, though local healthcare staff will be expected to play a leading role in their communities.
Mobile vaccine clinics will be “designed in consultation with” local leaders and adapted to each community, the NWT’s rollout plan states.
The territory promised to deliver vaccines in an “accessible, inclusive, and culturally respectful manner,” including making sure vaccine clinics have Indigenous-language interpreters where possible.
The vaccine strategy states the impact of the vaccine and any adverse reactions will be monitored, as will the percentage of residents vaccinated.