COVID-19 vaccines are available free of charge in the NWT on the following dates:
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
Human coronaviruses are common and are typically associated with mild illnesses, similar to the common cold. The new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is caused by a virus producing mild to severe respiratory infections. While most people have only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, others like seniors or adults with health conditions can get very sick, require hospitalization, or die from the disease.
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the spread of the virus a pandemic. The pandemic reached a turning point in December 2020 when Health Canada authorized the use of COVID-19 vaccines for distribution. The Northwest Territories received its first shipment of vaccine on December 28, 2020 and gave the first doses to priority residents starting December 31, 2020.
Like most viruses, COVID-19 changes or mutates as it reproduces inside the cells of an infected person. Viruses that have changed or mutated are called variants. A variant of concern is when there is evidence that a particular mutation allows the virus to spread more easily to others, causes increased disease severity, or reduces vaccine effectiveness.
Variants of concern have been increasing in number both across Canada and globally. Research is underway internationally and nationally to better understand the clinical impacts of these strains, such as how they spread and the severity of the illness. Evidence gathered to date suggests variants of concern spread among people easier and faster than the original strain. This can result in more illness, hospitalizations, and deaths.
Vaccines make your immune system stronger and help to build antibodies to prevent infectious diseases. It is much safer to get the vaccine than to get the disease. Vaccines, like other public health measures, are most effective when we all do our part.
Getting vaccinated is a choice you can make to prevent or reduce the risk of severe COVID-19 disease for yourself and others. Even if you are not at high risk of severe disease from COVID-19, it is important to think of your friends, family, co-workers, elders, and other community members who might be.
As new vaccines are approved by Health Canada and other populations become eligible for the vaccines, information will be updated accordingly. Before any measures can be safely lifted, the NWT needs: high vaccine uptake, evidence of lack of transmission after vaccination and vaccine effectiveness against variants, manageable risk to the unvaccinated population, and reduced rates of COVID-19 infections territorially, nationally, and globally.
Even after getting the vaccine, the most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 include:
- Washing your hands often
- Keeping physical distance from others
- Wearing non-medical masks when physical distancing isn’t possible
- Keeping your circle small
- Cleaning and disinfecting your home regularly
- Staying home when you’re sick
- Getting tested when you have symptoms
For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, talk with your health care provider or see the credible, evidence-based sources below.
Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech are two different brands of messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines offered in the NWT. mRNA vaccines teach your body to protect itself against COVID-19 without getting sick from the virus. Both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccines were approved by Health Canada in December 2020.
The Moderna vaccine is approved for people 18 years of age and older. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved for people 12 years of age and older.
Even though the vaccine is still being studied in people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, immunocompromised, or have an autoimmune condition, these people can get the vaccine if they want it. The health care provider giving the vaccine will discuss its risks and benefits to make sure it is right for each person.
Non-resident rotational and seasonal workers at increased risk of bringing COVID-19 into the territory can get vaccinated in the NWT if they living and working are here for a significant period of time. Prior approval from the Chief Public Health Officer is required by e-mailing CPHO@gov.nt.ca.
Anyone who is asymptomatic and approved for vaccination in the NWT will be permitted to do so during their isolation period after e-mailing CPHO@gov.nt.ca for prior written approval. Vaccinating someone during isolation requires additional personal protective equipment and coordination to ensure the safety of staff, clients, and others at the clinic.
Fully vaccinated individuals and household members are eligible for a shortened isolation period.
- Immunity for our Communities: NWT COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy
- Questions & Answers about COVID-19 vaccines
- COVID-19 Vaccine Explainer Video
COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics in the NWT Video
- COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine Information Sheet (Updated May 5, 2021):
- Vaccinations for Non-Resident Workers
- Vaccine development and approval in Canada
- Overview of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines
- COVID-19 Vaccines for Children: Deciding to vaccinate
- What you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine for Canada
- Vaccine safety in Canada (video)
- Canada’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan
- Immunize Canada
- CANImmunize App