All five Tłı̨chǫ chiefs are encouraging residents in the region to get the Covid-19 vaccine as soon as they are able, saying they themselves will be “first in line” when their turn comes.
In a news release issued by the Tłı̨chǫ Government on Monday, the chiefs of Behchokǫ̀, Gamètì, Wekweètì, and Whatì – as well as Grand Chief George Mackenzie – shared the message that getting inoculated will “help protect Tłı̨chǫ communities from any future spread of Covid-19.”
“It is important that as many people as possible take the vaccine because it protects not only those that get it from coronavirus, but it stops the virus from being able to spread to those who cannot get the vaccine,” the news release stated.
“There are now active cases in the NWT and there will always be a risk of the virus coming into our communities. We must all work together to protect our communities and we can avoid community outbreaks by taking the vaccine.”
Three Covid-19 cases were identified in Fort Liard this past weekend, with two more probable cases since announced. Health officials warn the chances of more being confirmed are high.
An active case was identified in Yellowknife last week, unrelated to travel and with “no known source.”
Fort Liard is under a containment order in response to the new cases, while other communities in the Dehcho region, including Jean Marie River and Sambaa K’e, are closed to outside visitors.
“Tłı̨chǫ chiefs would like citizens to know that taking the vaccine is not just about protecting yourself but protecting your loved ones and all community members,” the Tłı̨chǫ Government continued.
The first vaccine clinic in the Tłı̨chǫ region was held in Wekweètì last Wednesday.
Forty of the 110 doses healthcare staff brought were provided that day – including chief public health officer Dr Kami Kandola’s first shot.
According to the NWT Health and Social Services Authority’s schedule, vaccine clinics are set to take place throughout this week in Behchokǫ̀, Gamètì, and Whatì.
A clinic is tentatively set to return to Wekweètì in the week of February 8 to administer second doses to those who received their first last week, though an exact date has yet to be confirmed.
“We saw what happened in Nunavut and how quickly an outbreak can happen and the virus can spread in a community like ours,” Grand Chief Mackenzie stated.
“Even though there are no cases right now, we don’t ever want that to happen here. Our best defence is to stop the virus in its tracks so that it has nowhere to go. We can do that by getting 75 percent of our population vaccinated.”
Wekweètì’s Chief Charlie Football stated: “I was the number-one person to get the vaccine in Wekweètì and I hope that all my family, community, and family of Wekweètì also get the vaccine. It is the best way to protect ourselves from getting sick.”
A full schedule of NWT’s vaccine rollout is available on the health authority’s website.