Yukon government too slow on vaccine rollout, opposition says

·2 min read

Yukon Party leader Currie Dixon says the territorial government is taking too long to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dixon said Friday the Liberal government hasn't delivered on a promise to have the Moderna vaccine in the territory within two days of approval. And he said Yukon failed to convince the federal government to release all the territory's doses at once.

"First of all, they should have got this planning done back in November, December, when they told us that it was completed," Dixon said. "But going forward now, what I would say is that they need to do a better job communicating what's going on."

The first doses of the vaccine arrived in Yukon Dec. 28. The first shots were administered Jan. 4 at the Whistle Bend Continuing Care Centre in Whitehorse.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Health Minister Pauline Frost said the government was aiming to have 500 people vaccinated by week's end. Through Wednesday, Frost said the territory had administered 310 doses.

According to an online vaccination tracker run by University of Saskatchewan student Noah Little, as of Wednesday, the Yukon had administered 4.3 per cent of available doses.

That's one of the lowest rates in the country — only Nunavut and the Northwest Territories have lower rates. But when measured as a proportion of the population, the Yukon had delivered more shots per 100,000 people than any jurisdiction in Canada except for Prince Edward Island.

Wayne Vallevand/CBC
Wayne Vallevand/CBC

The territory's early rollout of the vaccine will focus on elders, health care workers and at-risk populations. Teams will begin vaccinating seniors and health workers in Dawson City next week, with the general public in rural communities and Whitehorse to follow.

Dixon said he doesn't take issue with how the government has determined who's first in line for the vaccine.

"We're happy to see the vaccine. We're happy to see Yukoners getting it. But it's just what the government has told us so far hasn't come true and hasn't been accurate," Dixon said.

"We know that this is not going as quickly as we expect it to based on what the milestones that the premier set up for himself."

Premier Sandy Silver acknowledged Ottawa did not come through with all of Yukon's doses at once, as he had hoped. But Silver said Thursday he's still pushing for more doses and more information on when those doses will arrive.

"I still am saying that it would be a lot more advantageous if we get it all in one fell swoop," he said. "Now, that didn't happen, but we're still working with the federal government."

Yukon has already received one shipment of 7,200 doses. Silver said the next shipment of 7,200 doses should arrive Monday.