Green, in about-face, says staffing not connected to vaccine rollout

Last modified: July 21, 2022 at 5:25pm


On Wednesday, the NWT’s health minister said a shortage of healthcare staff was interfering with the territory’s ability to roll out the latest Covid-19 booster shots.

On Thursday, the NWT’s health minister said a shortage of healthcare staff was not interfering with the territory’s ability to roll out the latest Covid-19 booster shots.

In an initial Twitter exchange with a Yellowknife resident, health minister Julie Green said a lack of capacity in 11 community health centres was one of the reasons why the NWT, an early leader in vaccination against Covid-19, now lags behind some jurisdictions.

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“With many health centres on emergency services only, we are not in a position to roll out vaccinations across the NWT right now,” Green wrote.

The minister said the NWT’s health authority was instead planning an early fall rollout of fourth shots, or second boosters, for the general population. (At the moment, only NWT residents aged 50 and over – or people with certain conditions that weaken their immune systems – are eligible for the latest booster.)

However, Green returned to Twitter a day later to state she got it wrong in asserting that the pace of the territory’s vaccine rollout was connected to staffing.

“Capacity within our healthcare system is a very real issue, but I misspoke yesterday when I said that it was one of the factors affecting the NWT’s rollout of fourth-dose Covid vaccines for residents under 50. Covid vaccines are available in every NWT community,” Green wrote.

“Our current approach to vaccine rollout is based on the science related to the risk of severe outcomes in different age groups. We continue to follow NACI guidance,” she continued, referring to Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization, “and fourth doses are available to residents of the NWT aged 50-plus.

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“If you are in this category, regardless of where you live in the NWT, you can get a fourth dose. We’ve weighed the risk of severe outcomes after Covid in people under 50 who have had their third dose against the benefits of a fourth dose.

“We are holding off on expanding eligibility until the fall, when we expect a new vaccine product that will provide more effective protection against Omicron and its subvariants.”

Meanwhile, the territory on Thursday provided guidance on when parents can expect the Moderna vaccine for children aged under five, approved by Health Canada this month, to become available.

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The NWT’s health authority says this vaccine will be rolled out from next week.

Green’s first tweets on Wednesday were in response to a resident complaining that “even Alberta,” which just began offering second boosters to anyone aged 18 and up, is now ahead of the NWT.