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First doses of Covid-19 vaccine arrive in NWT

A worker unloads what Health Canada says is the first case of Moderna vaccines for Covid-19. Health Canada/Twitter photo

The first doses of the Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine arrived in Yellowknife Monday, Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Minister Julie Green announced on Twitter.

The doses are intended for distribution to remote and Indigenous communities in the NWT.

Health Minister Julie Green said that 7,200 doses are now at Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife.

Immunization of NWT residents would begin in 2021, said Department of Health and Social Services spokesperson Damien Healy.

"Hiring, communications, and logistics are key activities that must be complete before immunization can begin to ensure a safe, equitable roll-out," he said. "Priority residents will start receiving their first dose in January 2021."

Enough of the vaccine is expected to arrive between January and March to vaccinate 75 per cent of the eligible population aged 18 years of age and older.

The Moderna vaccine requires two doses given four weeks apart for full immunization against coronavirus.

Green said on Dec. 23 that the territory anticipated the first shipment of 7,200 doses of the vaccine to arrive by the end of December, which would be enough for 3,600 residents to receive the needed two doses.

She added that the vaccine would initially be for people aged 18 and older, though the GNWT had stated in a release that Moderna was conducting additional studies in children 12 and older.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola said on Dec. 22 that the first to receive the vaccine would be Elders, people with high-risk health conditions, essential frontline workers, and Indigenous people in remote communities.

Specifics on the GNWT's vaccine distribution plan would be released in the first week of January and would include information such as who gets vaccinated, when and in which communities, Green said.