Only 1 vial of COVID-19 vaccine has gone to waste in N.W.T., says health official

·2 min read

The N.W.T. health department says it's at a net-zero waste of the COVID-19 vaccine, nearly a month after inoculations began.

One vial of the Moderna vaccine was wasted in a clinic where they "couldn't find someone to receive a dose" after it was already opened, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Services said. However, he says that was offset due to extra doses in some other vials.

"When we open a vial, we try our best to ensure it is fully used. In some instances we can procure 11 doses from a vial, we usually get 10," Damien Healy explained in an email.

The N.W.T. started vaccinating priority residents on Dec. 31, after receiving the first shipment of 7,200 doses of the Moderna vaccine. Residents who are high-risk, elderly, in long-term care facilities, with chronic diseases, live in remote communities, or are front-line workers are among the priority groups.

Health officials have been travelling to remote communities all month, with the last community vaccine clinic being held this week in Fort Good Hope.

N.W.T. Department of Health and Social Service
N.W.T. Department of Health and Social Service

Healy said on Tuesday that all the vaccines are tracked and are returned if they're not used in a community, saying as of now, they're sitting at less than 0.01 per cent waste.

"We are very pleased with our roll-out efforts to date. Community champions, including chiefs, elders and nurses in the community have risen to the task. We are on track," said Damien Healy in an email.

When asked about any hesitancy among residents to take the vaccine, Healy said the department is "always open to discuss" concerns.

"It's important for residents to seek out their own information and conduct their own research from trusted sources."

N.W.T. Health and Social Service Authority
N.W.T. Health and Social Service Authority

The government is aiming to have 75 per cent of the territory's adult population vaccinated by the end of March, expecting to receive 51,000 doses by then. Healy said they are still on track for that to happen.

Healy said the non-priority eligible population can expect their first dose in March. The Moderna vaccine requires a second dose approximately one month after the first.

There are currently six active cases of COVID-19 in the N.W.T. A cluster of cases was detected in Fort Liard, and the community is under a containment order to prevent further spread.

Starting Tuesday, the department opened up additional appointments between Jan. 26 to 28 at the Multiplex DND Gym for Yellowknife residents over the age of 60, and anyone who is at a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 and at high-risk of severe disease.