Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine clinics held in Yellowknife schools

·2 min read
A pop-up vaccination clinic at Sir John Franklin High School May 19. The school was one of several in Yellowknife to offer the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to students ages 12-17.  (John Van Dusen/CBC - image credit)
A pop-up vaccination clinic at Sir John Franklin High School May 19. The school was one of several in Yellowknife to offer the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to students ages 12-17. (John Van Dusen/CBC - image credit)

Students across Yellowknife are one step closer to being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 after pop-up Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination clinics were held in schools Wednesday.

The Northwest Territories began administering the Pfizer vaccine to youth aged 12 – 17 this month, but this was the first time that clinics were held in schools specifically for students in that age range.

It's been a whirlwind experience for the students who went from being in and out of the classroom following a COVID-19 outbreak to being offered the vaccine all within a matter of weeks.

Schools in Yellowknife, Ndilǫ, Dettah and Behchokǫ̀ were shut for two weeks this month after a COVID-19 outbreak at N.J. Macpherson School. This week, in-person classes resumed with new measures in place including mandatory masking.

Sixteen-year-old Liam But was one of dozens of students at Sir John Franklin High School to receive a vaccine Wednesday.
Sixteen-year-old Liam But was one of dozens of students at Sir John Franklin High School to receive a vaccine Wednesday.(John Van Dusen/CBC)

Grade by grade, students at Sir John Franklin High School who wanted to receive the vaccine were called into the gym, where the territory's COVID-19 immunization response team was on hand to administer it.

Grade 11 student Liam But came ready to celebrate, with a green lei around his neck.

"I feel really blessed to have this opportunity," he said.

The clinic was also an opportunity for Grade 10 student Samantha Noyce to convince a friend to take it.

"It was just a poke," Noyce said.

"A lot of the times, Yellowknife or the North even — doesn't get these things and the rest of Canada get them. But it's nice that Yellowknife can get it, or the North can get it. And it could help protect the North," Noyce said.

Sir John Franklin High School Principal Dean MacInnis said the clinic was a convenient way for students to get a vaccine.

Lorie Steinwand prepares a Pfizer vaccine at Sir John Franklin High School. The nurse is part of the territory's COVID-19 immunization response team.
Lorie Steinwand prepares a Pfizer vaccine at Sir John Franklin High School. The nurse is part of the territory's COVID-19 immunization response team.(John Van Dusen/CBC)

"Honestly, it's the ray of hope in a bit of an organized chaos right now to be honest," he said.

"It's nice to have it within the school because families feel confident it's going to happen in a safe way."

MacInnis is hoping for a second vaccine clinic at the school sometime next month.

The territory is expected to release a vaccine schedule for youth in the rest of the N.W.T. sometime this week.

Health officials are also collecting questions from youth to put to the territory's medical director Dr. AnneMarie Pegg, who will answer them next week.

As of Tuesday, before the in-school clinics were held, the territory reported 306 doses of Pfizer had been administered in the N.W.T.