Returning students, seasonal workers can get vaccinated while isolating, says Yukon's top doc

·3 min read
Returning students, seasonal workers can get vaccinated while isolating, says Yukon's top doc
Yukon's chief medical officer Dr. Brendan Hanley will provide an update on COVID-19 in the territory on Wednesday morning. (Philippe Morin/CBC - image credit)
Yukon's chief medical officer Dr. Brendan Hanley will provide an update on COVID-19 in the territory on Wednesday morning. (Philippe Morin/CBC - image credit)

Students and seasonal workers who have returned to Yukon and are self-isolating won't have to wait to be vaccinated against COVID-19, says Yukon's chief medical officer.

In his weekly news conference on Wednesday, Dr. Brendan Hanley said health officials have figured out a way to allow those in mandatory self-isolation to get a shot.

Right now, most people arriving in Yukon are required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Hanley said on Wednesday that returning students or seasonal workers will be allowed to leave isolation "for a short period of time" to attend a vaccination clinic.

Before their shot, however, they'll be tested. Only those who test negative will then get a shot, he said.

They'll then have to go back into self-isolation for the remainder of the 14-day period.

"This is certainly not a get-out-of-self-isolation-early card," Hanley said.

He also said health officials are now recommending that anybody sharing accommodation with someone in self-isolation should also be isolating. However, they are not required to do so by Yukon's Civil Emergency Measures Act (CEMA).

"We know it is hard to keep apart unless completely separated," Hanley said, explaining his new recommendation. "And with the spread of variants, we need to be extra-cautious."

Watch Wednesday's news conference here:

2 active cases 'close to recovery'

Also on Wednesday, health officials announced one new case reported in Yukon, but said the person was never infectious in the territory.

The affected person is an adult and the case is associated with international travel, according to a news release. The person tested positive on return to Canada, and completed self-isolation before arriving in Yukon. Officials say the person is now recovered, and there were no exposures in the territory.

The case is the territory's 78th.

Yukon's 77th case of COVID-19 was announced on Monday. Officials said the affected person is an adult in rural Yukon, and the case was connected to travel within Canada.

An exposure notice was also issued for a restaurant in Watson Lake.

On Wednesday, Hanley said that person was now recovered.

Two other cases, in Whitehorse, were announced last week and health officials said they involved the P1 variant of concern. Hanley said on Wednesday that those people are "close to recovery."

The territory's online vaccine tracker, updated Monday, says 71 per cent of eligible Yukoners had received their first shot of the Moderna vaccine, and 59 per cent had received their second shot.

Vaccination rates in Yukon are 'moving up and that's great. And I think we just need to keep that upward movement going,' said Hanley.
Vaccination rates in Yukon are 'moving up and that's great. And I think we just need to keep that upward movement going,' said Hanley.(Steve Silva/CBC)

Hanley said Yukon is doing relatively well, but is still at risk of importing variants of concern. He says the territory is not immune to what's happening elsewhere in Canada.

"It is hard to predict the next few weeks, but waves do come to an end and vaccine uptake is really starting to take off in the rest of Canada. And that is good news for us."

He said younger adults in Yukon still lag when it comes to getting vaccinated — though the numbers are still climbing, he said.

"It's moving up and that's great. And I think we just need to keep that upward movement going," he said.

"If we can continue to get our younger people up to the same levels as our older citizens, we will be well-positioned to have great summer where we can ease up on many of our current restrictions."

He would not say what restrictions might be eased, or when.

Asked about the N.W.T.'s announcement on Wednesday that it was changing self-isolation requirements for vaccinated adults, Hanley said he was happy to see changes being made "where they can be," but would not say whether Yukon would make similar changes.