The City of Iqaluit’s vaccine mandate went into effect on Feb. 7 with all City facilities including the fitness centre requiring a proof of vaccination to enter, joining communities such as Arviat and Rankin Inlet who have instituted similar mandates.
According to Nunavut Health Minister John Main, those who make the distinction between being anti-vaccine and anti-vaccine-mandate are “splitting hairs” when it comes to the matter.
“I don’t see any coherent argument against vaccine mandates. The arguments I do see put out are quite often based on misinformation such as ‘the City of Iqaluit should not have access to my personal health information’. That’s something a person against a vaccine mandate would say, the response is they don’t have access to your personal information, they only have access to the QR code.”
Main encouraged other Government of Nunavut departments and the hamlets to have a vaccination mandate just like Health and praised the efforts of Inuit Organizations such as Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated who are offering incentives to Inuit for getting vaccinated.
The territory’s total active confirmed cases of Covid-19 went down from 540 on Feb. 7 to 366 the next day with 196 recoveries reported, totalling 971 recovered cases over the course of this outbreak. Among the most significant drops is Iglulik from 90 to 38 cases that day, as the community entered the second week since public health measures were increased.
It is partly a cumulative effect since recoveries were last announced on Feb. 3, it is also “into that period of nine to ten days” since strict public health measures were implemented in Iglulik, said Nunavut’s chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson.
A total of 12,520 booster doses have been administered to Nunavummiut and the Department of Health has also seen an increase of first and second dose vaccinations.
“To our healthcare workers, thank you so much, mat’na, quana, qujannamiik,” said Main.
The Red Cross is sending six nurses to Iglulik, Baker Lake and Taloyoak, the three communities with the most cases after Iqaluit. The federal government has sent two nurses to Rankin Inlet.
The Department of Health is also working to increase staffing levels for the Covid-19 hotline to help with increased wait times.
Nineteen Nunavummiut have been hospitalized from Covid-19, none of these hospitalizations were people who had been fully vaccinated with a booster shot.
Thirteen out of Cambridge Bay’s 18 remaining confirmed cases are at the Cambridge Bay Continuing Care Centre, spread among both clients and staff.
“Fortunately all Elders at the centre are fully vaccinated and have had their booster (shot),” said Main.
Fewer attending school
Since schools have reopened, they have seen lower than average attendance rates, 29 per cent fewer than average in Kitikmeot, 27 per cent in Kivalliq and 21 per cent in Qikiqtani, according to Nunavut education minister Pamela Gross.
If a student is considered to be a high-risk contact they have to isolate, however the parents of those do not have to as isolating all contacts of contacts, according to Patterson is not feasible.
Main encourages parents who have concerns about their children catching Covid-19 at school to have their children vaccinated.
“We are hearing that concern, as the department of health we are seeing inquiries from elected officials and parents on this, we understand that it’s stressful for many parents,” he said.
“If the vaccine is good enough for you as an adult, you should also give that protection to your child. That’s my personal feeling about paediatric vaccines.”
People can expect to see future contact tracing changes as the Department of Health will be focusing more on higher risk areas, such as congregate settings, critical services and minimizing the risk to those most vulnerable such as Elders and immunocompromised people.
This comes on the tail of current contact tracing efforts hindering long-term health programming.
“It has started to impact other health maintenance programs like routine vaccinations and in some cases contact tracing around TB,” said Patterson.