Yukon aims to vaccinate 75 per cent of adult population by end of March

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WHITEHORSE — Yukon officials are aiming to vaccinate three-quarters of the territory's adult population against COVID-19 by the end of March.

The territory unveiled parts of its vaccine rollout plan on Thursday, which includes two mobile vaccination units and a clinic at the Yukon Convention Centre in Whitehorse starting Jan. 18.

The vaccine will be delivered to remote communities in the mobile clinics, dubbed Balto and Togo after two dogs that were part of the sled team that delivered the diphtheria serum to Alaska in 1925.

"This has not been an easy task to organize," said Pauline Frost, the minister of health and social services.

Priority will be given to people working and living in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers, older people and those living in rural and remote communities.

The goal is to have 75 per cent of the territory's adult population vaccinated by the end of March, but the figure may change, Premier Sandy Silver said.

"We want to ensure we proceed as safely as possible as we roll out this vaccine," said Silver.

Silver said he had scheduled a discussion with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday to discuss the availability of more doses of the Moderna vaccine.

Yukon has reported nine cases of COVID-19 since the new year.

Dr. Brendan Hanley, the chief medical officer of health, said he wouldn't be surprised if the territory sees more cases because of the holiday season and people returning from travel.

"It is easy to get lured into complacency, and I think that may have happened yet again here," he said.

When new cases are confirmed, people appear shocked, Hanley said, but they should operate on the assumption that COVID-19 is active in the territory.

"Chances are it is lurking somewhere close," he said. "It is crucial we remain on guard."

Hanley said the territory's vaccination target is aggressive but he believes it can be reached.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 7, 2021.

The Canadian Press