Appointments for Yellowknife youth to get their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were filled almost as soon as they were made available. More are coming next week.
The NWT government secured around 1,100 doses of the vaccine in a swap deal with British Columbia earlier in the week. Youth aged 12 to 17 are approved by Health Canada for vaccination using Pfizer’s two-shot formula.
Demand swiftly exceeded supply. Five hundred sessions on Thursday, Saturday, and Monday were booked out by 6pm on Wednesday.
“We’re really glad to see such eager uptake of those initial appointments. We’ll be adding more in the next few days,” said Scott Robertson, executive co-lead for the NWT government’s Covid-19 response.
On Thursday, health authority communications manager David Maguire said the next clinic would be held on Wednesday next week and would be bookable early next week. Watch for an announcement.
“They are limited, but they’re not the last ones,” he said. “We’ll announce more when we get more vaccine.”
Robertson said the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer is now collecting information on how many eligible youth currently in isolation are interested in being immunized. The territory’s health authority will set vaccine doses aside for them.
If you are isolating or have an isolating teenager, email the chief public health officer to request an exemption to leave isolation and receive a vaccine, Maguire said.
Robertson told parents to check the GNWT public health website and social media channels for further announcements on when the next round of appointments will be made available through the online booking form.
The first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived in Yellowknife just as Health Canada approved its use for children as young as 12. Moderna’s vaccine, used for adults in the NWT, has yet to be approved in Canada for use among people aged under 18.
Pfizer doses are being made available to youth in Yellowknife and Behchokǫ̀, where a clinic will take place next week, as Yellowknife’s current Covid-19 outbreak reaches 34 confirmed and six probable cases tied to the NJ Macpherson school cluster. The majority of those cases involve children.
Robertson says the territorial government has secured enough doses to immunize about 70 percent of children aged 12-17 in those communities.
“We think we’re going to be able to offer those to most people who want it in this first shipment,” he said.
Another shipment of the Pfizer vaccine is expected in the coming weeks, but public health has not yet confirmed a date.
“I’m confident that our vaccine teams and the Covid response team will be able to make this happen,” health minister Julie Green told Loren McGinnis on CBC North’s Trailbreaker.
“It’s the best news I’ve had since needles started going into arms on New Year’s Eve,” she told the CBC.
Sarah Pruys contributed reporting.