Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speaks to media at at press conference on Jan. 27 about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. The Yukon has now surpassed a vaccination rate of 65 per cent, but Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley said young people are lagging behind. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speaks to media at at press conference on Jan. 27 about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. The Yukon has now surpassed a vaccination rate of 65 per cent, but Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley said young people are lagging behind. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Hanley: Over 65 per cent of Yukoners vaccinated

Vaccination rates higher among seniors, lower among youth

The Yukon has now surpassed a vaccination rate of 65 per cent, but Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley said young people are lagging behind.

“Our rates are much lower in young people than older people,” said Hanley. “We’re seeing a bit more hesitancy among younger groups.”

That discrepancy is discouraging, he said, because having pockets of people with lower vaccination rates could lead to a risk of transmission. The goal for vaccination was to reach 75 per cent as an estimate of herd immunity.

At a press conference on March 24 Hanley reiterated that the vaccine is the best path towards beating the pandemic. He said while pandemic restrictions are not being eased yet, Yukoners should prepare for travel by getting vaccinated.

“Vaccine uptake is our key to freedom,” he said. “Please don’t wait any longer.”

Hanley said he won’t be addressing restrictions or travel bubbles until after the election, since those are “government decisions” made with his public health knowledge input.

Asked about the impact of the election on his office, Hanley said it’s a time when “non-critical decisions” are deferred.

“If anything I think it gives us a bit of breathing room as we watch the variant activity and watch how large these third waves are going to be in the provinces,” he said.

Hanley said evidence is quickly accumulating about how the vaccines are performing against variants.

Hanley said he is “very optimistic” about Canada-wide vaccination campaigns that have targeted mass rollouts to late summer into September.

“We will be at high vaccine uptake before the rest of Canada but much of what we do has always relied on importation risk. Our calculation will always factor in the risk of importation based on the Canadian situation and the vaccine uptake in the provinces,” he said.

Hanley said the most recent COVID-19 outbreak near the border of the Yukon, concerning the Silvertip Mine, has been controlled. Workers at the mine were asked to self-isolate after four positive cases were confirmed at the site.

Contact Haley Ritchie at haley.ritchie@yukon-news.com

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