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First COVID-19 vaccines administered in NWT

The GNWT ended 2020 by administering its first round of vaccines at the Aven Manor retirement facility in Yellowknife.

Elderly residents of long-term care facilities and workers employed there were identified by the GNWT as part of the four priority groups who are set to be the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The four groups are elderly people – within which those who live at long-term care facilities are higher priority – front-line workers, people with pre-existing conditions and Indigenous people.

The Health and Social Services Authority administered the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, which landed in the territory on Monday. They were transported to Stanton Hospital in Yellowknife first, with a portion to be sent to the Inuvik pharmacy facility.

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A speciality freezer setup to house the vaccines was sent to Stanton as well as Inuvik, with vaccines to be distributed to outlying communities from there.

The GNWT on Monday received their first allotment of the Moderna vaccine – 7,200 doses, which is enough to vaccinate 3,600 people. Despite this, the GNWT still hasn’t released their vaccine distribution plan. 

This is due to a number of factors – the schedule and amount of the vaccine delivery and the logistics of refrigeration – which meant the territorial government couldn’t concretely plan for how vaccines will be distributed, according to Dr. Anne Marie Pegg, NWT’s Territorial Medical Director.

The NWT received 7,200 doses of the Moderna vaccine. (Supplied by GNWT.)

“This is not a regular vaccine rollout, logistics are more complex, they require more planning and thought, and we’ve been working on logistics for months, and are close to providing the plan to the general public,” said Pegg.

“People need to feel safe, having outside providers come to their communities. And it takes time to have these conversations,” she added.

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Pegg added the territorial government has not received an exact date for future deliveries of vaccines, or when vaccines will start being administered elsewhere in the territory outside of Yellowknife and a long-term care facility in Behchokǫ̀.

“We will now be embarking on the most complex vaccine rollout in our history,” Dr. Kami Kandola, NWT’s Chief Public Health Officer, said in a press conference on Wednesday. “But our teams are ready.”

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