N.W.T. front-line workers receive COVID-19 vaccine

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Front-line workers in Yellowknife received the COVID-19 vaccine on Sunday.

The first phase of workers to receive the Moderna vaccine were staff at long-term care facilities, who received it last week along with residents, according to an emailed statement Monday from the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority.

Over the weekend, they started administering the vaccine to front-line staff at Stanton Territorial Hospital in a "phased manner based on priority," said communications manager David Maguire in the email.

"Priority is based on the likelihood of contracting COVID-19 or transmitting the virus to those at high risk of severe illness or death."

Priority groups include the emergency department, intensive care, respiratory therapy, lab staff who are processing COVID-19 testing, dedicated COVID clinics, and public health, he said.

Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority
Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority

The N.W.T. already immunized 130 residents and staff at two long-term care facilities, one in Yellowknife and one in Behchokǫ̀, on Dec. 31.

The N.W.T. released its plan to distribute the vaccine to its 33 communities last week.

The territory received 7,200 doses of the Moderna vaccine on Dec. 28. It expects to receive two more shipments of 7,200 doses at three- to four-week intervals before receiving its final shipment of more than 20,000 doses in mid-March.

When the territory gets its final shipment in mid-March, it expects it will have received 51,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, enough to immunize 75 per cent of the adult population.

The Moderna vaccine is considered best for the territories, because the doses are more easily shipped and stored than the Pfizer vaccine.

The Moderna vaccine requires a second dose, about one month after the first dose is administered.