The Dettah COVID-19 vaccine clinic received a good response from elders, as the GNWT continues its COVID-19 vaccine rollout to priority populations.
Dettah Chief Edward Sangris was the first to be vaccinated that morning, followed by Theresa Lin, a youth in the community, who got her vaccine second.
“They wanted to show that the chief our leader in the community was getting it and also a youth, so I went with him and we did together,” she said. “I didn’t actually feel the needle, it was not like most needles where you can actually feel the needle and everything.”
A team of nurses and a logistician arrived an hour and a half before the clinic, in order to defrost the vaccines. Vaccines have to be out of freezers for an hour. Diama Ollerhead, a registered nurse working at the clinic, said vaccines are removed in small batches, to prevent any wastage.
“When we get low, and we see that there’s a lineup coming, we will pull out another one and we’ll just have to tell people to come back in an hour,” she said. “That way, we know how many people are coming and we’ll keep track of it.”
Making sure elders in the community were able to get to the vaccine clinic was a priority, says Jason Snaggs, chief executive officer of the Yellowknives Dene. The Dene Health and Wellness Centre were picking up residents who had mobility issues and transporting them to the clinic.
“One elder called me promptly at eight o’clock this morning — she has issues walking, and she wanted to know if someone was coming out and I assured her,” he said. “She was one of the first people to actually get the vaccine.”
Snaggs said there hadn’t been skepticism in the community among elders about the vaccine, and that it was important people in the community get vaccinated — Snaggs said he would be getting vaccinated when the vaccine is made available to the general public.
“We’re no different than any other First Nation, whether they are living in a remote community or living in an urban center — the issues are the same.”
“The populations here and the communities that are more rural do suffer the same, or similar circumstances when it comes to overcrowded houses,” he added. “We have a population where housing is an issue, and where families live, very close-knit and in close-quarters. And hence, it is important that, especially those who have a lot of underlying medical conditions, do get this vaccine.”
Victor Crapau, said he was happy the day had come when he could get his dose of the vaccine. Crapau added he is excited for travel restrictions to be lifted, so he can visit family in Fort McPherson.
The Dettah clinic is part of the GNWT’s rollout of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to priority groups, including Indigenous communities and elderly residents.