Yukon, territories leading Canada in COVID-19 vaccinations


In the small community of Carcross about an hours drive south of Whitehorse, 423 of the 637 people who live in the area went to the two-day mobile vaccine clinic at the local learning centre to receive their first dose of the Moderna vaccine.

One of those people, Maria Benoit, deputy Kha Haa Shaa du Hen (deputy chief) of Carcross/Tagish First Nation (CTFN), says she’s happy with community turnout.

“I just happened to come in here yesterday. We were impressed to see all the people here all lined up, and lined up right out the door,” she said.

It’s been a whirlwind of activity for rural communities and First Nations in the Yukon ever since the territory deployed its two mobile COVID-19 vaccination clinics last month.

Since mobile vaccination teams began travelling to rural Yukon communities in mid-January, the territory has vaccinated 23.5 per cent of its adult population, totalling 9,931 doses. Its aim is to immunize 75 per cent of the adult population in the first three months of 2021.

It’s an impressive number considering the southern provinces are still off to a slow start, respectively.

Ontario, Canada’s highest population province, has vaccinated 2.4 per cent of its population so far (362,749 doses). Canada’s second highest populated province, Quebec, has vaccinated about 2.9 per cent of its inhabitants (248,673 doses).

Mobile vaccination teams have travelled to all rural Yukon communities in order to administer the first dose of the Moderna vaccine to anyone who wants one aged 18 or older.

Whitehorse residents who aren’t high-risk will be able to get vaccinated later this month.

In Haines Junction, 360 people attended the first day of their two-day clinic at the Da Kų Cultural Centre. Numbers for the second day are still being tallied.

Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (CAFN) KAAXNOX, DÄN NÄTTHE ÄDA Chief Steve Smith says the First Nations estimate around 500 citizens will be vaccinated.

“Our goal was to have every Champagne and Aishihik person who wanted to get vaccinated, get vaccinated,” he says.

But the Yukon isn’t immune from the vaccine shortages that hit Canada this week.

Canada is facing shortfalls in the delivery of vaccines for Canadians from two major international biotech firms, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

An upcoming shipment of the Moderna vaccine is expected to be 50,000 doses shy of what had been expected due to production delays in Switzerland.

The territory, accordingly, is cutting back on its vaccinations but is focussing on “getting doses to people who received their first shot.”

The territorial government says it’s working to make sure the Yukon receives its full allotment by the end of March.

Reporter / Whitehorse

Sara Connors is originally from Nova Scotia and has a Journalism degree from the University of King’s College in Halifax. After graduation she worked in South Korea for two years as an English Language teacher and freelance journalist. After she returned home in 2019 she worked behind the scenes at CTV Atlantic in Halifax before joining APTN's Yukon bureau in July 2020.