Yukon's top doctor urges public to get vaccinated, no plan to lift restrictions

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WHITEHORSE — Yukon residents are being urged to get COVID-19 vaccinations as the territory's top doctor admits there has been hesitancy from some communities about the vaccines.

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon's chief medical officer of health, said Wednesday that health officials are working to reassure groups who have expressed concern about the vaccine and potential side-effects.

Those who can get vaccinated, either at the open clinic in Whitehorse or when mobile teams go to a community, should do so, he told a news conference.

But Hanley expressed doubt that making the vaccine mandatory would be effective, and could potentially alienate those with concerns.

Instead, Hanley said the territory is focusing on outreach efforts, including talking with groups about their concerns.

"We're working with people, we're working with various communities, both to try to understand the reasons and to give people the information they may need to make that decision."

Yukon has no current cases of COVID-19, but Hanley says there are no plans to lift health restrictions.

He said 65 per cent of adult residents have received their first vaccine dose and the territory has so far avoided the potential of a third wave.

Hanley said there are some concerns about a drop in the number of younger people getting vaccinated as Yukon's vaccination program moved below the 70-plus age category to include anyone over 18 years old.

The territory expects to have more complete data next week, but Hanley said they have seen a declining trend in the decades younger than 70 in getting the vaccines.

He added there could be a range of reasons younger people were not getting vaccinated, such as work and family commitments, but it is important they do so to help the territory achieve herd immunity.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 24, 2021.

The Canadian Press