WHITEHORSE — Plans to ramp up Yukon's COVID-19 booster campaign are being hindered by a shortage of people to give the shots, the public services minister said Wednesday.
John Streiker said there is an urgent need for vaccination help as the government works to make the booster accessible across the territory.
"Simply put, we are seeking more immunizers to increase delivery of boosters at our clinics," he said during a news conference.
The government is looking internally to identify candidates as well as asking retired medical professionals and volunteers to help.
About 87 per cent of people over the age of five in Yukon have received their first dose of vaccine and 80 per cent have had two shots.
"Our high vaccination rate has been a critical part of our response to the pandemic and managing the ongoing risk," Streiker said. "The recent waves would've been significantly worse if we had lower vaccination rates."
Despite concerns of the Omicron variant spreading, chief medical officer of health Dr. Catherine Elliott said no additional restrictions are being put in place for the holiday season.
"At this time, we don't need to put in further measures. Measures are the heavy hand of the law," she said. "I would prefer if people choose to do the right thing."
Elliott said the territory can expect to see a rise in cases as people return for the holidays and she urged travellers to act responsibly to prevent the spread of the virus. That includes following public health measures and keeping social circles small, she said.
Elliott asked residents to follow health restrictions over the holidays, adding she had cancelled several of her own plans to keep loved ones safe.
"This is a tough time and we've all had to make changes," she said.
"Reducing our activities now is so very important in keeping transmission down."
Health officials will not hesitate to recommend further restrictions if the situation worsens, she said.
There were 49 active COVID-19 cases in the territory on Wednesday for a total of 1,652 since the pandemic began. The Delta variant is still the most common in Yukon, Elliott said.
Yukon brought in a state of emergency in November when infections in the territory began to spread quickly as it placed limits on gathering sizes, brought in a mask mandate and required proof of vaccination for certain venues.
Elliott said 40 per cent of children five and older have received a COVID-19 vaccine, higher than the national average of 30 per cent.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 22, 2021.
The Canadian Press