Government of the Northwest Territories Announces Preliminary COVID-19 Vaccination Approach

News Releases

Yellowknife — December 11, 2020

Today, the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) announced preliminary plans to roll out the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine between January and March 2021.

Once authorized for distribution by Health Canada, the NWT will receive enough of the Moderna vaccine to immunize 75% of NWT residents 18 years of age or older.  

The Moderna vaccine was selected as the most viable vaccine option for all three territories due to its ability to be shipped and stored more easily to remote communities at -20°C. The Pfizer vaccine currently being distributed to other parts of Canada must be stored at -70°C, which requires specialized, costly equipment and presents significant logistical challenges.

The Moderna vaccine requires two doses given four (4) weeks apart to be considered immunized against COVID-19. NWT residents can be confident that top Canadian experts, scientists, and medical professionals carefully reviewed all of the scientific data and evidence for vaccine safety and effectiveness. The GNWT encourages all adult residents to get vaccinated but it will not be mandatory.

The GNWT is developing a specialized plan for vaccine delivery based our distinct geography and population, along with recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). One of the first crucial steps in finalizing this plan is engagement with Indigenous and community governments, which is set to begin next week.

Once priority groups are vaccinated, rollout will continue for other residents. The GNWT will continue to work closely with the Federal Government and Joint Task Force North to confirm timing and logistics. Vaccine delivery will be supported with comprehensive communications to help inform residents and build confidence in the vaccine. In the meantime, residents should continue to follow the public health orders including social distancing, wearing a non-medical mask and frequently sanitizing hands.



“It has been a long and difficult road to get to this day – but it has been our commitment to evidence-based decision making, and listening to the advice of our medical professionals and those in the scientific community that we are on the cusp of beginning to overcome one of the biggest challenges our society has ever faced.  It has always been the top priority of the Government of the Northwest Territories to protect residents and communities from the threat of the virus – and as we begin to roll out the vaccine to residents in coming months, we all must continue to do our part to protect one another.”

- Caroline Cochrane, Premier of the Northwest Territories; Minister Responsible for the COVID-19 Coordinating Secretariat


“Getting NWT residents vaccinated for COVID-19 will bring us one step closer to resuming the lives we had before this pandemic, but it will still take some time. Extensive work is underway to develop a plan for immunization of each NWT community. Our plan will factor in the unique geography and population of our territory along with recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. Public health orders will continue to be reviewed by the Chief Public Health Officer as vaccination rates rise inside and outside our borders.”

- Julie Green, Minister of Health and Social Services


Quick facts

·       On December 10, the Federal government announced the NWT will receive enough of the Moderna vaccine to immunize 75% of the population.

·       Health Canada authorization of the Moderna vaccine is required before roll-out can begin. Authorization documents will include key information necessary for vaccine prioritization planning.

·       Extensive work is well underway developing the complex immunization plan for entire territory. Engagement will occur next week with Indigenous and community governments to ensure planning is a collaborative effort from all levels of government.

·       Travel restrictions and self-isolation requirements will not be lifted immediately upon administration of the vaccine.

·       Public health measures will continue to be essential to stop the spread of COVID-19. Until enough of the territorial and national population have received both doses of the vaccine and risk of infection is significantly decreased, appropriate public health measures will remain in place.


Related links:

Canada’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan

Vaccine development and approval in Canada

Vaccine safety in Canada (video)


Media Contact

Damien Healy
Department of Health and Social Services
Government of the Northwest Territories
(867) 767-9052 ext. 49034