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Time to fight back against Covid as vaccination clinics begin in Kivalliq

Arviat residents will become the first in the Kivalliq region to start receiving the Moderna vaccine in the fight against Covid-19 when inoculations begin in that community on Jan. 14, and continue on Jan. 15, 16 and 18.

Nunavut Health Minister Lorne Kusugak begins to make his way out onto the tarmac to meet the FedEx flight, in background, carrying the first shipment of the Moderna vaccine against Covid-19 into Rankin Inlet on Dec. 30.
Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

The Moderna vaccine is administered in two doses that are given 28 days apart, and it will be offered free of charge to all eligible Nunavummiut 18 years of age and older.

As of press time, vaccination dates had not been announced for any of the other six Kivalliq communities of Baker Lake, Chesterfield Inlet, Coral Harbour, Naujaat, Rankin Inlet and Whale Cove.

No one will be forced to take the Moderna vaccine (it is not mandatory), which was tested on 30,000 people and shown to be 94 per cent effective at preventing or reducing the severity of infection.

The vaccine is currently not approved for people under the age of 18.

Nunavut's Department of Health is reminding all Nunavummiut that, prior to receiving the vaccine, it is important to inquire with local health professionals if you are pregnant, breast feeding, are immunocompromised, suffer from an autoimmune disease, or have allergies to one or more ingredients in the vaccine.

Injection-site reactions to the Moderna vaccine may include pain, tiredness, headache, muscle ache and stiffness, chills, fever, swelling or redness, nausea and/or vomiting and enlarged lymph nodes.

The Department of Health also reminds Nunavummiut to seek medical attention immediately if you develop serious symptoms, or symptoms that could be an allergic reaction, such as hives (bumps on the skin that are often very itchy), swelling of the face, tongue or throat and/or difficulty breathing.

Premier Joe Savikataaq said the Government of Nunavut (GN) began its vaccination program at the Iqaluit Elders’ facility on Jan. 6.

The premier recognized the dedicated and exemplary efforts of those who, to date, have been shouldering the lion's share of the critical work in the first round before turning his attention to concerns being raised on social media.

There have been a lot of comments and questions (raised) on my social media during the past few days about this vaccine, and why I’m not taking it just now,” said Savikataaq.

The answer is simple. It just isn’t my turn yet.

We are making sure our most vulnerable — and our beloved Elders — are receiving these first doses.

I’m not at high-risk. I'm not immunocompromised. And, despite these white hairs, I’m not an Elder.”

Moving forward, the GN assures everyone that it will keep all Nunavummiut informed regarding the progress of its vaccine delivery, schedules for each clinic and the number of vaccines that have been administered.

Savikataaq said rigorous testing around the world has proven the Moderna vaccine to be safe and effective.

He said he will share the experience with everyone as soon as he and his colleagues have been inoculated.

I encourage everyone to learn the facts about Moderna instead of opinions and fearmongering.

And, as always, please remember that our public health measures are not going to stop anytime soon.

We need to keep washing hands, keep physical distance, keep wearing masks and keep taking precautions.

The vaccine is not the end of Covid-19. It is the next step in our fight. Stay well, stay healthy and stay vigilant for our communities.”