Immunocompromised people in the Northwest Territories will be able to book an appointment to receive a third dose of vaccine against Covid-19 starting later on Thursday.
Speaking to Loren McGinnis on CBC North’s Trailbreaker, health officials said Yellowknifers who are moderately to severely immunocompromised will be able to book online. People in other communities can call their health centre.
More detailed information about eligibility is expected later in the day.
Dr Kami Kandola, the territory’s chief public health officer, said the NWT has seen a higher number of breakthrough cases – cases in people who are fully vaccinated – than the national average.
Since January 1, the approximate point at which the NWT’s vaccination campaign began, 192 Covid-19 cases (roughly 30 percent of recorded infections in that time) have been reported in people who were fully immunized.
“Because we were privileged to get the vaccine first, we unfortunately are going to be the first one to experience the waning immunity, which we’re seeing in our own case numbers,” Dr Kandola told the CBC.
She said the NWT is following the guidance of Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which last week recommended third shots for the immunocompromised population.
The science regarding a third shot for the general population remains uncertain. Until now, the consensus among scientists has been that a third shot is not ordinarily necessarily.
The national advisory committee is still examining third doses – or booster shots – for the wider population, as well as the possibility of combining the flu shot and the Covid-19 vaccine.
Kandola said the United Kingdom currently recommends that its residents aged 15 and older receive a booster shot of either a half-dose of the Moderna vaccine or a full dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
Vaccines for under-12s?
While vaccines for children under 12 are yet to be authorized, the NWT says it has been preparing for that rollout.
“Since children will likely have a smaller dose, getting specialized syringes, we are acquiring the required supplies that we’re going to need for administration, as well as ensuring that our teams are ready,” said Scott Robertson, the NWT health authority’s Covid-19 co-lead.
Robertson said the NWT now has more transport options and freezers allowing easier movement of the vaccine to all communities.
“We don’t have the same level of scarcity that we had at the beginning with the vaccine,” said Robertson. “We have ways to store the vaccine in all of our health centres.
“So instead of having to send out specialized teams with specialized equipment to every community, we can get the vaccine to the communities and the nurses there can administer the vaccine to the students there.”