COVID-19 vaccines for kids aged 5 to 11 to arrive in N.W.T. by end of week, health minister says

·2 min read
Six-year-old Eric Aviles received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a pediatric vaccine clinic for children ages 5 to 11 set up at Willard Intermediate School in Santa Ana, Calif., on Nov. 9. Children in the N.W.T will be able to receive the vaccine soon, as doses are expected to arrive in the territory by the end of the week. (Jae C. Hong/The Associated Press - image credit)
Six-year-old Eric Aviles received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a pediatric vaccine clinic for children ages 5 to 11 set up at Willard Intermediate School in Santa Ana, Calif., on Nov. 9. Children in the N.W.T will be able to receive the vaccine soon, as doses are expected to arrive in the territory by the end of the week. (Jae C. Hong/The Associated Press - image credit)

The N.W.T. health minister says first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for children aged five to 11 are expected to arrive in the territory by the end of the week.

Julie Green, territorial health minister, said the schedule for distributing the vaccines has been established, but will not be made public until the doses arrive.

The comments were made on Tuesday evening, after Jackie Jacobson, MLA for Nunakput, asked when the vaccines would be arriving during the standing committee on accountability and oversight.

Dr. AnneMarie Pegg, the territorial medical director, said the vaccination teams have been ensuring all communities have proper storage prepared for the doses and that staff are trained.

"Health centres and the vaccine logistics team and the vaccine administration team have been working very hard to make sure that we're ready to roll out in a very short time after the arrival of the vaccine," she said.

Avoiding future containment orders

The meeting gave MLA's the chance to question health officials about the Emerging Wisely Plan.

Dr. Kami Kandola, the N.W.T. chief public health officer (CPHO), led off with a presentation on the government's handling of the current COVID-19 outbreak that originated in the Sahtu in mid-August.

The outbreak resulted in over 1,900 positive cases and 12 deaths.

Kandola acknowledged at the height of the outbreak, the N.W.T. had the highest COVID-19 infection rate in the country.

The outbreak resulted in various containment orders in different communities dealing with transmission.

Kandola said these containment orders were successful and have led to the current decline in cases.

Rylund Johnson, MLA for Yellowknife North, asked Kandola if there are plans for managing a future outbreaks without needing to issue a containment order.

Kandola said the one way to accomplish that would be with high vaccination rates in five to 11-year-olds.

"We will get outbreaks [with high vaccination rates] … But we will not get the same level of community transmission," she said. "It is unlikely that I would be needing to use these restrictive orders to contain the spread."

On Tuesday, Kandola also announced it was revising its self-isolation requirements for children who receive one dose of the vaccine.

Children who have had one dose 14-days before entering the N.W.T. will no longer be required to self-isolate, but will need to be tested on day one and day eight of their arrival.

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