Kakisa is the first NWT community to have 100 percent of its population aged 12 and older at least partially vaccinated, according to most recent figures from the GNWT’s Covid-19 dashboard.
The small community in the South Slave is currently leading the way in vaccination rates across the board, with 88 percent of its population ages 12 and older fully vaccinated. Though this may be helped by the fact Kakisa only has 36 residents, the community is hailing it as an achievement.
Ruby Simba, Kakisa’s council manager, told Cabin Radio they had hired someone to translate information about the vaccine into Dene Zhatie and explain the process to Elders during at-home visits well ahead of the first vaccine clinic on January 15.
She credited this as being a big help to quelling vaccine hesitancy within the community.
“We explained that it was a powerful virus, and this would help them put medicine in their body,” Simba explained. “When the time came, a lot of the Elders came out.”
However, she continued, Kakisa has never had much of an issue with vaccine hesitancy, noting that flu shot clinics are often well-attended within the community.
‘Do people care?’
Elsewhere in the territory, vaccination rates are slowly climbing.
It’s also important to note vaccination rates are not static – they can change monthly when the status of residents in the community changes as people move to or from a community.
Right now, Sachs Harbour, Ulukhaktok, and Fort McPherson follow closely behind Kakisa, with 90 percent, 89 percent, and 86 percent of residents aged 12 and older partially vaccinated, respectively.
Richard Nerysoo, mayor of Fort McPherson, said the continued high vaccination rates in his community indicate that people are concerned about the pandemic.
“We continue to press hard for the protection of our community and our people,” he said.
“We are concerned, and we worry about our friends and family members in the Sahtu, and hope that things work out for them along with other communities that are going through an increase in individuals that have contracted the virus.
“It’s serious for us, serious for the North, it’s serious for Canada, and for the rest of the world.”
In July, Fort McPherson became the first community to have 75 percent of its adult population fully vaccinated against Covid-19. At the time, Nerysoo said the hamlet has to “be even more concerned and more determined to keep our people safe.”
When reached by phone on Friday, he reiterated that message.
“I think that’s the biggest issue: do people care?” Nerysoo said.
“That’s the big thing I have to say about the people of Fort McPherson – we care, and we want people to know that it’s important that they care for their people in their community.”