Update on NWT COVID-19 Vaccine Program

News Releases

Yellowknife — June 22, 2021

The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) is pleased to announce vaccine opportunities have been provided to youth in all 33 NWT communities. Going forward, vaccine will be available in every health centre in the territory to ensure timely, equitable access for all residents.

Due to the complex storage and handling of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines, both products may not always be available in all communities at the same time. Eligible residents are encouraged to get whichever vaccine is available in their community by contacting their local public health unit or health centre.

The NWT is currently sitting at 65% coverage for fully vaccinated individuals and 71% coverage for partially vaccinated individuals. Residents are highly encouraged to complete their vaccine series with a second dose to achieve stronger, longer-lasting protection against severe outcomes of COVID-19 disease and to ensure the best protection for their families and communities against variants of the disease.

Over the coming weeks, health authority staff will be calling those overdue for their second dose to provide information on where they can be immunized or answer any questions they may have about the vaccine.

Vaccination During Isolation

Now that vaccine supply in the NWT has stabilized, changes are being made to simplify access to vaccine for individuals during their isolation period. As such, an exemption letter from the Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) is no longer required to receive COVID-19 vaccine during self-isolation. Exceptions include: being named as a contact of a known or suspect case of COVID-19, experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, or returning to the NWT from travel outside of Canada.

This authorization is specific to obtaining COVID-19 vaccination only; visiting businesses or attending other activities while in isolation is not permitted. Individuals will be required to wear a mask while in public and during the appointment.

Yellowknife residents who are self-isolating can book an appointment online to get vaccinated during isolation, or call Public Health at 767-9120 and indicating that a self-isolation appointment for COVID-19 immunization is required.

Residents self-isolating outside of Yellowknife can call their public health unit or health centre and ask for a self-isolation appointment for COVID-19 immunization.

Interchangeability of mRNA Vaccines

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends that mRNA vaccines can be considered interchangeable and another mRNA product may be offered to complete the vaccine series.

Updated Guidance for Specific Populations

NACI recommendations on the use of COVID-19 vaccines for people who are immunosuppressed, have an autoimmune condition, or who are pregnant or breastfeeding are now the same as the recommendations for the general population.

Evidence is available from real-world use of COVID-19 vaccines, particularly mRNA vaccines, in these populations. NACI’s position is that international real-world data show COVID-19 vaccines are safe in these populations. Individuals who are immunosuppressed from disease or treatment may have a reduced immune response to COVID-19 vaccines.

Quote(s)

“The GNWT is committed to reducing barriers wherever possible to ensure residents in all communities have equitable access to vaccine. NACI’s updated guidance on vaccine interchangeability and making it available to specific populations previously excluded helps make our program even more flexible than before. I am calling on anyone who is eligible for their first or second dose of vaccine to do their part and get vaccinated so we can all get back to the things we love.”

- Julie Green, Minister of Health and Social Services

Quick facts

  • Since January 12, 2021, the GNWT has been offering vaccine to individuals who are immunosuppressed, have an autoimmune condition, or who are pregnant or breastfeeding as long as the risks and benefits were discussed with the health care provider first.
  • On May 6, 2021, the GNWT began vaccinating adolescents aged 12-17 with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine just one day after Health Canada approval for those 12 years of age and older.
  • On June 1, 2021 NACI published changes to allow for interchangeability mRNA vaccines.

Related links

 

For media requests, please contact:

Umesh Sutendra

A/Manager of Communications

Department of Health and Social Services

Government of the Northwest Territories

Umesh_Sutendra@gov.nt.ca

(867) 767-9052 ext. 49036