Yukon to vaccinate returning students, seasonal workers during their 14-day isolation

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WHITEHORSE — Students and seasonal workers travelling to Yukon will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination as they self-isolate, while the territory pushes for a less restrictive summer.

Dr. Brendan Hanley, the territory's chief medical officer of health, says people who fall under those categories must take a rapid test before their vaccination, showing they don't have COVID-19.

He says the evidence is clear that vaccinations work against the virus, and roughly 71 per cent of residents in the territory have received at least their first immunization shot.

Hanley says if younger age groups start increasing their vaccination rates, the territory could have fewer restrictions in place for the summer.

Yukon has two current cases of COVID-19, with Hanley adding that one of those is now in the recovery stage.

The territory is also moving forward with a plan to allow residents of long-term care homes to go on community outings and have more visitors.

Hanley says the restriction for incoming travellers and returning residents to self-isolate has been shown to limit the spread of the virus.

"Many are coming back from high-prevalence areas, but many have been planning to come back for some time, so they know what the risks are and most of them will be doing their best," he said during a news conference on Wednesday.

He added that the main concern is not how long students and workers spend in self-isolation, rather that they aren't spreading COVID-19.

Hanley said Yukon would not be able to send health-care workers to Ontario, where the provincial health system is stretched past capacity as COVID-19 cases overwhelm hospitals.

The territory's health system is stretched as it is, he said, and the limited number of health-care workers it could spare would not provide much help.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 21, 2021.

The Canadian Press