Health Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brendan Hanley announced youth vaccination clinics planned for this summer. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon government file)

Health Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brendan Hanley announced youth vaccination clinics planned for this summer. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon government file)

Vaccination campaign planned for Yukon youth age 12 and up

The Pfizer vaccine was approved for younger people on May 5.

Children and teens in the territory aged 12 to 17 will soon be able to get vaccinated in the Yukon.

Newly minted Health Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee made the announcement with Dr. Brendan Hanley, the territory’s chief medical officer, on May 12.

“We are developing a robust plan to deliver the Pfizer vaccine to our territory’s youth,” McPhee said. “Our community isn’t fully protected until our children and youth are.”

“I’m thrilled that youth will be able to have this extra layer of protection,” added Hanley.

The Pfizer vaccine was approved for youth above 12 on May 5. McPhee said the territorial government has secured enough Pfizer doses to vaccinate the entire youth age group in the Yukon. There are 2,631 Yukoners in that age group and around 2,100 are in Whitehorse.

Youth vaccine clinics planned for summer

Youth vaccine clinics will take place in the communities. Medical travel will be supported to Whitehorse for youth that are unable to attend the vaccine clinic in their community.

All will be able to receive their first shot before the school year, likely by mid-July.

Hanley said the question of when children will get vaccinated has been the most asked question recently. He said he also expects Moderna to be approved for this age group later on in the summer.

“Pfizer has become easier to handle with subsequent regulatory applications and approvals,” Hanley said. “It has become more similar in handling requirements to Moderna.”

Border opening boosting vaccination uptake

Hanley said in four months, the territory is now closing in on herd immunity levels. He said the easing of restrictions has brought “some excitement” to the territory and resulted in a spike in first-dose vaccinations.

“If we keep this up, Yukoners will have much more to look forward to in the coming weeks,” he said, noting that the percentage has shifted as the summer population of the Yukon has grown over the past four months.

“There is no one target number where we reach and then stop,” said Hanley. “Ideally our numbers will continue to climb. In turn, we will be able to talk about further relaxation of restrictions soon.”

Hanley said Yukoners will be able to enjoy a “second dose summer” if vaccination rates continue.

“This is phenomenal news,” said McPhee. “We are truly leading the country when it comes to vaccinations.”

Nearly 500 more individuals got their first shots after travel restrictions were eased, said Hanley, adding that youth numbers are still lagging behind older adults. He also said that Yukoners need to be following up with second shots.

“We are continuing to work with our partners and communities and First Nations on how best to address vaccine hesitancy,” McPhee said.

Both Hanley and McPhee also applauded the territory’s nurses, who are being recognized now during national nursing week.

“Sincere thanks and appreciation to all those who chose the nursing profession and who care for us all each and every day,” said McPhee.

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

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