A vaccine distribution plan can be expected early January, as the GNWT still finalizes the details.
The plan will include identifying high risk members of the elder population, who will receive vaccines before the lower risk elder population. There’s around 6,000 seniors — people over the age of 65 — in the Northwest territories.
The subset of that group who are at high-risk — people living in Indigenous communities, people with health conditions or those living in long-term care — will get the vaccine before the rest of the senior population, according to Dr. Kami Kandola, NWT’s Chief Public Health Officer.
Getting vaccines to people in rural communities will require portable freezers that can keep vaccines at the required temperature during transport. The GNWT is still waiting on those freezers to be delivered, and couldn’t provide details on where they will be sent or when they will arrive.
“The idea with the portable freezers is I think to ensure that the vaccine arrives where it’s going good condition, even though it needs to be thawed before use,” said Health Minister Julie Green. “These are very precious doses of vaccines that we’re going to treat very, very well, so that they arrive in good condition in communities.”
With meetings with Indigenous and municipal governments completed, the GNWT is finalizing details on their vaccine distribution plan. This comes as the GNWT is expecting a surge of people who will require COVID-19 testing, as people travel for Holidays.
Kandola said the GNWT has conducted 9335 tests. The territory has had 24 confirmed cases with only three active cases in the territory. Kandola said there will likely be more cases of COVID-19 over the coming weeks, with the increased risk of “importing the virus” coming with the high volume of people travelling.
The GNWT could not determine exactly how many people they were expecting to travel into the territory over the holiday period. Using past year’s travel numbers is “like comparing apples to oranges”, but Kandola said she is confident they can handle the surge.
Premier Carline Cochrane said Protect NWT enforcement officers will be on duty over the Christmas period, and will issue tickets if people’s gatherings over the Holidays period exceed the COVID-19 guidelines.
“My hope is that all residents would abide by the orders and we don’t have to give one ticket out,” Cochrane said. “I’m hoping that all residents will give the gift of safety to their neighbors to their loved ones and everyone abides so we won’t have to give any tickets out.”