Don't book summer trips to other parts of Canada just yet, said chief public health officer Dr. Kami Kandola on Wednesday.
Despite the roll out of Covid-19 vaccines moving along across Canada, especially in the NWT, Nunavut and Yukon, it's too early to make solid plans for travel to and from southern jurisdictions, she explained.
"Wait until we get more data (about the vaccines). Wait over the next few months. Don't book airplane tickets," she advised. "Also, unfortunately, we don't know when the vaccine will roll out to the general population in Ontario (and other provinces). They may not get their doses until September. We don't know yet."
Speaking just minutes before she received her first dose of Moderna in Wekweeti during that community's vaccine campaign on Wednesday, Kandola said that the main unknown with the vaccines is the type of protection it gives people.
"We know that getting the vaccine prevents that person from developing severe Covid disease. Some information we still need to know is can people who are vaccinated still transmit Covid? If the science and the studies show no, they don't transmit Covid, it does change the isolation pattern for people who are vaccinated, because then they're not at risk of getting the disease themselves but they're not at risk of spreading it, and they're protected. So it's going to be a different scenario for those particular people."
People should also consider that they'll need at least six weeks until they reach peak immunity to Covid-19, Kandola noted.
After the first required dose of Moderna, people receive the second dose 28 days later. Two more weeks need to pass until the vaccine becomes fully effective.
Her comments come just a week after she told MLAs in a standing committee meeting that fully vaccinated travellers who are demonstrably not transmitting Covid might be able to undergo self-monitoring and confirmatory tests instead of self-isolation.
“I’m hoping in six weeks that question can be answered through science and through the monitoring surveillance,” she said.
The vaccination campaign in the NWT was in its second full week during Jan. 10-17, with 20 communities having been visited by vaccination teams since immunizations began for Elders in Yellowknife and Behchoko on Dec. 31.
At least 512 Moderna doses have been administered to NWT residents since Dec. 31, according to the GNWT's Covid-19 dashboard.