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Moderna COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Canada

The Moderna vaccine has been approved by Health Canada, allowing the GNWT to finalize its vaccine distribution plan.

The GNWT said they expect the first shipment of 7,200 doses of the vaccine will be received by the end of December 2020, which is enough for 3,600 NWT residents to receive the required 2 doses of the vaccine.

Health Canada received Moderna’s submission on October 12, 2020.

Health minister Julie Green said in a statement this was exciting news and the release of the GNWT’s vaccine distribution plan would come early in January.

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“There is still some work to do behind the scenes to get ready for the arrival of the vaccination and implementation of our plan,” Health Minister Julie Green said in a statement. “Hiring, communications, and logistics are key activities that must be complete before vaccination can begin.”

The communications team will help combat misinformation about the vaccine. 

NWT’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola, Premier Caroline Cochrane and Green have repeatedly reiterated the safety of the Moderna vaccine, the rigorousness of the methods used to test the vaccine and the importance for residents to make an informed decision about taking the vaccine.

“NWT residents can be confident that top Canadian experts, scientists, and medical professionals carefully reviewed all of the scientific data and evidence for vaccine safety and effectiveness,” Green said in a statement. “While the vaccine will not be mandatory, the GNWT encourages all eligible adult residents to get immunized to protect themselves and others against COVID-19.”

The Pfizer vaccine was approved back on December 9 by Health Canada, and its first doses have already been administered in some parts of Canada.

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The Northwest Territories is focusing their vaccine distribution plan on the Moderna vaccine because of logistics.

The Pfizer vaccine has to be stored at -70 degrees celsius, which requires specialty freezers. The GNWT has two specialty freezers delivered to Inuvik and Yellowknife, but distributing the vaccines to outlying communities would not have been possible, because the freezes weren’t located in smaller communities.

The Moderna vaccine only has to be stored at -20 degrees celsius, meaning the GNWT can have portable freezers — which Green said on Tuesday were still to be delivered — allowing for the vaccines to be distributed to rural communities.

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