Health Minister Julie Green says there is doubt over whether 75 per cent of adults receiving their COVID-19 vaccine is enough.
Green was speaking in the Legislative Assembly on Monday and said new considerations like the UK COVID-19 variant — two cases of which had been reported in Fort Chipewyan last week — meant the 75 per cent vaccination rate may not be high enough.
“I think that that rate is now in question to some extent, given changing situations such as the variants and how transmissible they are, vaccine uptake, a number of other things that may change the immunity level that we require in communities to say that we are fully vaccinated,” she said.
Green said vaccine take-up had been progressing, but was still low in some communities, ranging from 40 per cent to above 70 per cent depending on the community. Uptake was particularly low among younger adults aged 18 to 34, with less than half receiving a dose of the vaccine so far, according to Green.
In total, around 58 percent people have received their first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, with 36 percent having received their second dose.
“At this point, it’s fair to say that there is no region or community in the NWT that’s met our target of vaccinating 75 percent of the population,” said Green.
But Green said the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer would be reviewing the GNWT’s Emerging Wisely Plan, which could see some COVID-19 restrictions lifted on a community-by-community basis depending on the rate of people vaccinated in a community.
MLA for Kam Lake Caitlin Cleveland said while communities shouldn’t be pitted against each other, making sure residents in one community aren’t suffering for low vaccine uptake in another community is a good idea.
“Not to put people against one another, but we will have different success at different points in time. I think it’s valuable to be able to look at this from a community-by-community basis, and not strictly an NWT-wide basis,” she said.
Green said restrictions within the NWT would be lifted first, which could include loosening restrictions on business capacity, summer music festivals, family gatherings and weddings.