Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speaks to media at at press conference on Jan. 27 about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. (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. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

No new date yet for Whitehorse mass vaccine clinic

“I appreciate your collective patience as we all wait for the news”

Premier Sandy Silver says there is no new information about when the delayed mass clinic for Whitehorse residents will be rescheduled.

Silver and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brandan Hanley presented an update on Feb. 11.

The mass clinic for Whitehorse adults over 18 years of age was originally scheduled for Feb. 10 but was set back due to a national shortage of the Moderna vaccine.

Silver said the federal government has assured the territory that it will receive all allotted doses before the end of the first quarter of 2021.

“We are still waiting for the federal government to confirm the details around the supply of vaccines in the coming weeks. And we will have more information to share very soon. I have told my federal counterparts in no uncertain terms that they need to stick to their commitment of prioritizing vaccines for the North to protect our rural and Indigenous communities,” he said.

Hanley said despite the uncertain timeline the territory will continue with the original plan to eventually vaccinate 75 per cent of all adult Yukoners with two doses.

Right now the priority remains inoculating older residents over 60 and those living in communities outside of Whitehorse.

As of Feb. 11 the number of Yukoners who have received a first dose of the Moderna vaccine is 10,604. Second doses have been underway in long-term care homes and for frontline healthcare workers. The current number of administered second doses is 830.

Team Balto and Togo will begin heading to communities next week. They will be in Old Crow on Feb. 19, followed by Watson Lake and Beaver Creek. The team providing vaccinations in Whitehorse to priority groups has been named Team Fox.

“I appreciate your collective patience as we all wait for the news and as we have had to adjust schedules and be as flexible as possible. Without doubt there will be more twists and turns along the way. But we’re still on track for a very successful campaign,” Hanley said.

The territory has not seen any COVID-19 cases now in four weeks, but both Hanley and Silver said Yukoners must continue following the safe six and mask up.

“It’s important that we all continue to be cautious to be aware and to follow public health measures. How we travel, getting tested when symptoms occur, staying away from others when sick, observing all the safe six plus one; these choices today could well determine how our next few months will be,” he said.

“Variants continue to be a topic of conversation and week by week we continue to learn more about them,” he added, noting that variants have been seen in Northern British Columbia.

Second dose symptoms

Hanley also addressed the potential short-term side effects of the second dose, which tend to be stronger than the first dose.

“Second doses are a pain in the arm,” Hanley admitted. “This isn’t necessarily a negative thing. When these common side effects are felt, it means that the immune system is responding as planned.”

“Many people experience effects like soreness, or even swelling at the site of injury is the injection. A slight fever, possibly muscle aches, fatigue, headache. The symptoms will vary from person to person. Some will experience very mild symptoms, while others may feel like they actually have COVID-19,” he said.

Hanley said it was “upsetting” to see misleading information circulating in the community. Earlier this week the Yukon Employees Union raised concerns that a large number of continuing care employees receiving their second dose were off sick.

Only 10 per cent of continuing care staff were sick — a number anticipated by the government, Hanley said.

“If symptoms persist more than a day, consider whether you might have COVID infection, call 811 or talk to your health care provider if you’re concerned. As always, follow the testing self-assessment tool online,” he said.

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

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