From questions on travel bubbles to who is prioritized for vaccination, N.W.T. top docs have answers

·4 min read
Terriorial medical director Dr. AnneMarie Pegg, left, and N.W.T. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola answer questions live on The Trailbreaker Thursday. (CBC - image credit)
Terriorial medical director Dr. AnneMarie Pegg, left, and N.W.T. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola answer questions live on The Trailbreaker Thursday. (CBC - image credit)

As the Northwest Territories heads into spring in a few weeks, health teams have been wrapped up in preparing and delivering vaccination clinics, say the territory's top doctors.

"This coming week is going to be one of the busiest weeks for the team," said N.W.T. medical director Dr. AnneMarie Pegg.

There will be a slew of second-dose clinics rolling out in various communities. The doctors said those who missed getting their first dose will have another opportunity to get it at these clinics.

There will also be a priority vaccination clinics in Yellowknife, Hay River and Inuvik rolling out.

The territory originally set the target to have 75 per cent of the eligible population vaccinated but that's been pushed to April because fewer vaccines were delivered to the N.W.T. than originally planned.

As of Wednesday, there are four active COVID-19 cases in the N.W.T., with a total of 47 confirmed cases and 43 listed as recovered on the government's website.

There have been 14,520 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine given since Wednesday and 1,934 second doses administered.

The N.W.T. government says it expects to receive its fourth shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine, containing 16,200 doses, later this week.

Missed the live call-in show? Watch it here:

Pegg, along with Dr. Kami Kandola, the territory's chief public health officer, answered questions from listeners during the Thursday morning edition of the CBC's The Trailbreaker.

Here are some highlights:

Once you get your vaccine do you still have to isolate?

At this time, yes.

Kandola says though the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a U.S. federal health agency) has made a statement that two weeks after a person receives a second dose, there's no need to quarantine, Canada has not yet made a statement on that.

She says medical experts are also waiting to receive data on whether the virus can be transmitted from people who have been inoculated.

"Once we get that answer, that will be a game changer," Kandola said, adding she's hoping more information on that will be known as the rollout of the vaccines continues aroudn the world.

Will hotel workers be made essential workers?

People can make a request to be considered an essential worker through the office of the chief public health officer, said Kandola.

As well, next week, the priority group for vaccinations in larger municipalities will be expanded to include workers who provide essential services such as cashiers, teachers and hotel workers.

"We do understand hotel staff … do put themselves at risk for exposure," Kandola said.

To find out more about who is in a priority group, Pegg said people can check the government website for the latest vaccine schedule.

Within the majority of the smaller communities, anyone over 18 is eligible for the vaccine, Pegg said. Those people should get in touch with their local health centre to find out how the clinic will be organized.

Will the N.W.T. be bubbled with Yukon anytime soon?

Not at this time.

Currently, Yukon has out-of-province travel restrictions, Kandola said.

For N.W.T. to be able to move forward with exemptions between the two territories, Yukon would have to lift those restrictions too.

"Once that occurs, then we can move forward in discussion but that is really outside of my control."

What if I can't get a second dose of the COVID-19 until about 6 weeks after the first dose?

You can still get the second dose without having to restart the vaccination process.

"In some places like the U.K. and Quebec, they wait up to 12 weeks," Kandola said.

She added you can also get it in any community as an N.W.T. resident.

Will there be a card issued to prove you've been vaccinated?

There is a card given out once people receive a dose, but it's more of a reminder, Pegg explained. The date of the vaccine administration is also recorded in the electronic medical system.

Pegg says there is talk of a vaccine "passport" but so far there's no official card. If someone wants a copy of their vaccination record, they would need to make a request through the Department of Health and Social Services.

Those requests take time, Pegg said. Expect to wait as there are many of those requests in progress.