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Routine vaccinations delayed in November due to COVID-19 pressures

MLA Annie Blake raised concerns about childhood vaccine delays in the legislature
(Black Press Media files)

The government’s Department of Health says some routine vaccinations for infants were delayed or rescheduled in November due to pressures from COVID-19.

Michael Edwards, a communications analyst within the department, said “as a result of COVID-related pressures and competing priorities, some of the Department of Health and Social Services’ regularly offered programs and vaccinations were reduced, delayed or suspended.”

Edwards said some delays and rescheduling of infant vaccine appointments took place in November, but the appointments have since been rescheduled. He could not confirm for deadline if the situation has been resolved or if cancellations are ongoing.

Edwards said priorities for vaccination are determined by the chief medical officer of health and the Yukon Immunization Program.

NDP MLA Annie Blake raised concerns about childhood vaccine delays in the legislature Nov. 25, giving notice of a motion urging the government to request help from the Canadian Red Cross to administer vaccines in the Yukon.

NDP Leader Kate White said the party had heard from multiple parents who were concerned that routine vaccinations for their newborns were being delayed or rescheduled.

A standard immunization schedule for children in the Yukon begins at two months and continues up until Grade 6, protecting against conditions that include tetanus, diphtheria, measles, polio and meningococcal disease.

The motion never progressed in the legislature.

Edwards said Canadian Red Cross nurses are already working in the Yukon to assist with COVID-19 testing. Two are working at Whitehorse General Hospital and two are working at the COVID Testing Centre.

“We are continuing to work with the CRC on additional supports,” said Edwards.

Edwards said the Red Cross supports are not available for routine tasks such as infant vaccination but are temporary measures for emergency responses.

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