A woman enters the COVID-19 vaccination centre in Whitehorse on Feb. 1. Vaccinations for the general public are expected to begin March 1. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

A woman enters the COVID-19 vaccination centre in Whitehorse on Feb. 1. Vaccinations for the general public are expected to begin March 1. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Whitehorse general clinic set to open March 1 for vaccine distribution

The general clinic for all Whitehorse residents 18 and over to get their Moderna COVID-19 vaccines has been scheduled for March 1.

The new date was announced Feb. 18 following news that the federal government plans to deliver the Yukon’s full dose allotment on Feb. 28. If everything goes according to plan the 16,100 doses will arrive before the end of February and allow the general clinic to open at the beginning of next month.

“If the vaccines arrive on schedule, which we assume they will, we will be able to open up the Whitehorse clinic to all eligible Yukoners,” said Premier Sandy Silver. “We’ve been waiting a long time to get to this stage and I know that getting immunized will come as a relief for many.”

Silver said the Yukon government worked hard at “reminding of the Prime Minister’s commitment, which was to prioritize rural and Indigenous and remote communities.”

“At the end of the day, Ottawa agreed that that was a commitment and you’re seeing the results of that,” he said.

While the community clinics have accepted some walk-in appointments, Silver made it clear that people must book online or by telephone when it comes to the general clinic.

Yukoners were able to book spots at the clinic online following the announcement, but the website was unable to keep up with the demand. Most people visiting the website received a page that said “invalid link” while others made it through to booking and were eventually told their spot had filled up.

A lucky few, particularly those who accessed the website as soon as it went live, said they were able to complete the booking process in around 10 minutes. Phone calls were similarly inundated, with workers on that end also unable to access the booking website.

Yukon Health and Social Services said the issue was an IT problem due to increased traffic and being worked on.

So far 10,627 people have received their first dose of the vaccine. More than 917 people have received their second dose.

As many Whitehorse residents begin booking their first shots this week, the mobile vaccination teams will travel to Old Crow on Feb. 18 and then to Watson Lake and Beaver Creek next week to deliver second shots.

Community residents are also asked to book appointments online in advance.

Dr. Brendan Hanley also addressed the two positive cases of COVID-19 that have been identified in the community, Hanley said case 71 was a person working on an Outside jobsite who contracted the virus. The individual flew from Vancouver to Whitehorse and began isolating, but unwittingly passed the virus along to a household member, case 72.

Both individuals are now recovering safely at home.

“It was disappointing, as it always is, to hear we knew that more cases were potentially on the horizon and we were well prepared,” Hanley said. “These two new cases should not bring alarm bells, but they do remind us that we should always act as if someone around us could have COVID. Think about your own routines and behaviors and where you might be vulnerable to exposure. Choose a bubble and stick to it. Don’t take risks by skimping on the safe six plus one.”

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

CoronavirusYukon government

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