COVID-19 Vaccine

Last modified: 
01/08/2021 - 14:53

 

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 on December 23, 2020 when Health Canada authorized the use of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for distribution. The Northwest Territories received its first shipment of the vaccine on December 28 and gave the first doses of the vaccine to priority residents on December 31, 2020. 

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.

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is currently approved for people 18 years of age and older. Priority groups in the NWT will be offered the vaccine first between January and February 2021. The rest of the eligible adult population can expect to get the vaccine starting in March 2021.

As new vaccines are approved by Health Canada and other populations become eligible for the vaccines, information will be updated accordingly.

Priority groups include:

  • Advanced age: the risk of COVID-19 severity starts to increase after age 60. Most vulnerable in this category are those who live in long-term care facilities or in shared living environments.
  • Existing chronic disease and comorbidities: residents with conditions like chronic lung, kidney, or heart disease are at greater risk for experiencing severe form of COVID-19 and its complications. Those who travel outside the NWT regularly for medical care are at even greater risk.
  • Likelihood of transmitting COVID-19 to those at high risk of severe illness and death is another important consideration. This risk group may include frontline health care workers, or those who provide care to high risk vulnerable populations.
  • Resident workers who live in NWT but work regularly out of territory or at work camps with out-of-territory workers are at elevated risk of acquiring COVID-19 and transmitting to family, household members, or those in the community.
  • Living in a remote community, including Indigenous communities, with limited health infrastructure in comparison to larger centers.

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine. This new type of vaccine teaches your body to protect itself against COVID-19 without getting sick from the virus.

The vaccine is given as two doses in the muscle of the arm with at least 4 weeks between the first and second dose of vaccine.

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is available free of charge on the following dates:

Before any measures can be safely lifted, we need to see vaccination rates rise and rates of infection drop 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.

Resources

Government of Canada Resources