NWT residents are not attending booked vaccine appointments, and doses could be wasted as a result.
In certain 5 to 7 p.m. and Saturday morning time slots, territorial medical director Dr. Anne Marie Pegg said no-show rates have been as high as 40 per cent.
“The vaccine doses are very precious, and every time we open a vial of vaccine, we want to make sure that the entire vial gets used,” she told reporters Wednesday. “But people are no-showing for their appointments and there could be a vaccine vial that’s opened and if there aren’t enough people to provide all of the doses, it’s a potential that those doses could be wasted.”
Each vaccine vial has 10 doses and once punctured, must be used within six hours to avoid waste.
Though no no-shows have led to wasted vaccines, David Maguire, Health and Social Services (HSS) communications manager, said the department has had to push end of day appointments to the following day in order to avoid puncturing a new vial as it would be not fully used. In other cases, he said they have extended clinics and called individuals with appointments the following say to come in on short notice.
“Staff are very careful to match vaccine that is thawed, and more importantly punctured, to patients available to immunize,” Maguire said. “The NWT has been very diligent in following our mantra of ‘waste no dose.’”
He said the bigger issue is that wasted appointments wastes staff resources and will prolong the vaccination campaign.
Pegg acknowledged that cancellations are at times necessary, “because life happens,” but urged residents to click the online cancellation button to give others the opportunity to book the time slot since.
All NWT adults eligible for vaccine
The reminder is especially important as all Yellowknfiers over the age of 18 are now eligible for vaccine appointments. The announcement, made Wednesday, means that every resident over 18 in all 33 NWT communities is now being offered the Covid-19 vaccine.
“I am pleased to report that we are ahead of schedule,” Health and Social Services Minister Julie Green said – referring to GNWT promises to begin first dose rollout to the general population by end of March and to receive enough vaccine for 75 per cent of the adult population by March 31.
As the Government of Canada continues looking into immunization passports, Pegg indicated that NWT residents can request proof of immunization through the HSS website though she cautioned that whether or not those documents will eventually provide certification for international travel, remains to be seen.
With “significant backlogs in those requests,” Pegg also asked that those thinking of making a request for those documents “just in case or in anticipation of potential use,” to hold off until further direction since HSS is experiencing time delays in their ability to process the requests.