Today, the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) released the GNWT COVID-19 vaccination strategy titled Immunity for our Communities: The Northwest Territories’ COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy for residents of the Northwest Territories (NWT).
The strategy was developed by the Department of Health and Social Services with input from Indigenous governments and community leadership. It was also built on recommendations from the National Advisory Council for Immunizations (NACI).
The GNWT approach to vaccination for COVID-19 is grounded in five core values. These include equity, cultural competency, evidence-based decision-making, flexibility and responsiveness, and trust. These values will guide our response teams when delivering vaccinations across the territory.
A phased approach for vaccine delivery began on December 31, 2020. The strategy prioritizes residents who are at highest risk. Residents who fit within the identified priority groups (see below) will receive the vaccine first. The GNWT expects vaccinations to take place between January and February 2021. The general population can expect to have the opportunity to be vaccinated starting in March 2021. Information and resources about the vaccine itself will be hosted at www.gov.nt.ca. Specific dates and times of vaccine clinics will be updated as additional doses from the federal government arrive in the NWT. There will be regular updates posted to www.nthssa.ca.
The overarching goal of the Immunity for our Communities: The Northwest Territories’ COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy is to provide a safe, effective vaccine against COVID-19 to 75per cent of the territory’s eligible population 18 years and older.
The GNWT continues to work closely with federal, provincial, and territorial partners throughout the planning and roll out of COVID-19 vaccines in Canada. The unique characteristics of the NWT will continue to play a key role in shaping vaccine distribution within the Northern context.
Vaccines, like other public health measures, are most effective when we all do our part. The GNWT urges NWT communities and residents to review trusted sources for vaccine information and check back often for updates on community vaccine schedules.
“We have begun a vaccination plan that is one of the most complex health care efforts the Government of the Northwest Territories has ever had to complete. A collaborative and coordinated approach across all levels of government plays a vital role in our efforts to effectively deliver vaccine doses across the Northwest Territories. I am confident in our health care professionals to deliver the vaccine to 33 communities successfully.”
- Caroline Cochrane, Premier of the Northwest Territories; Minister Responsible for the COVID-19 Coordinating Secretariat
“Last week, the GNWT began vaccinating NWT residents. Today we are releasing our complete vaccination strategy. so NWT residents can prepare to receive their vaccine. As I have said before, though vaccinations are not mandatory, vaccine uptake will be especially important to protect those who cannot yet receive the vaccine, including residents who are pregnant, immunocompromised, or less than 18 years of age. I will continue to advocate for the importance of residents to get their vaccine if they’re able to and play their part to protect our loved ones and our communities.”
- Julie Green, Minister of Health and Social Services
· The first vaccines were delivered in the NWT December 31, 2020 to long term care residents and staff in Behchoko and Yellowknife.
· The Moderna vaccine was selected as the most viable vaccine option for all three territories due to its ability to be shipped and stored to remote communities at a normal freezer temperature.
· A resident requires two doses of vaccine given four (4) weeks apart to build immunity against COVID-19.
· The Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority has redeployed or hired an additional 43 nurses and 18 logisticians to roll out the vaccine in NWT communities.
· Travel restrictions and self-isolation requirements will not be lifted immediately upon administration of the vaccine. They will be re-evaluated as vaccination levels rise across the territory, and across Canada.
· This phased approach for delivery, as described in the Strategy, identifies priority groups are as follow:
· 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 multiple medical conditions: 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.
Department of Health and Social Services
Government of the Northwest Territories