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COVID-19 vaccines to be conserved for second doses after smaller than expected shipment

Supply chain issues mean the NWT will receive a smaller shipment of COVID-19 vaccines than first anticipated.

Premier Caroline Cochrane announced the third shipment of vaccines would hold 4,700 doses, down from 7,200.

Cochrane says that means outside of already booked appointments, or those administered to rotation workers at Gahcho Kué, the rollout is being put on pause.

“All remaining doses will be conserved to deliver second doses to priority populations,” she added. 

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“We’re anticipating two more shipments in February, and those two shipments would provide the second doses for the first two shipments,” NWT’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola said in a press conference on Wednesday. “So one will be the first week of February and that’s the next one will be the last week of February.”

The NWT received its second shipment of 7,200 doses of vaccines earlier in January, meaning the territory has 14,400 vaccines available. As of January 29 at 9 a.m., when figures were last updated, the NWT has already administered 9,471 vaccines.

The territory’s medical director Dr. AnneMarie Pegg suggests the GWNT has been able to open up more appointments as the “dynamic nature” of vaccine supply has changed.

“We would love to have been able to vaccinate everyone, all at the same time but with the way the allotments arrive,” she said. “We need to make sure that we are able to vaccinate anyone who makes an appointment and also make sure that we’re keeping vaccine numbers available so that when further allotments arrive, we’re able to use those to give these people their second dose.”

News from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization could help ensure everyone receives their second dose on time. New research suggests a second dose of the vaccine can be given between 28 and 42 days after the first dose, rather than strictly within 28 days or fewer.

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The change could provide residents some flexibility in their vaccination schedule, which had previously prevented people from receiving their first dose.

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is reported to be 92 per cent efficacious after the first dose.

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