The NWT has received its first doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
The 7,200 doses arrived by plane on Monday, which is enough to vaccinate 3,600 people.
Members of high-risk groups, seniors in long-term care homes, and elders in Indigenous communities, will be part of the first group of NWT residents to get the vaccine. That process will begin in mid-January, according to a statement from the GNWT, posted on Facebook.
“Essential work is underway to train health care staff, coordinate logistics, develop communications, and engage with communities to ensure a safe, equitable roll-out across the NWT,” according to the statement.
Between January and March 2021, the NWT is expected to receive enough of the vaccine for 75 per cent of adults to be vaccinated.
NWT’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola said previously the vaccine would not be made mandatory, but the territory is working on spreading information about the vaccine, to ensure residents make an informed decision.
“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,” Health Minister Julie Green said in a previous 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 Northwest Territories is focusing their vaccine distribution plan on the Moderna vaccine because of logistics.
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.
Getting vaccines to people in rural communities will require portable freezers that can keep vaccines at the required temperature during transport.
“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,” Green said previously. “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.”