The community hit hardest by Covid in Nunavut started inoculations this past week but everything is not going according to plan in Arviat just yet.
At press time, only slightly more than 500 people in the community of about 3,000 had agreed to get the vaccine and the hamlet has gone to the tried-and-true method in the Kivalliq — it’s offering a chance at big bucks in a lottery draw for everyone who gets inoculated.
Arviat Mayor Joe Savikataaq Jr. said he was filled with joy to see the plane arrive with the Moderna vaccine this past Wednesday, Jan. 13.
He said a motorcade brought the vaccine into town from the airport so everyone could celebrate its arrival.
“Many people have gone on local radio to say how happy and thankful they are for the arrival of the vaccine,” said Savikataaq.
“When the first deaths were announced in Nunavut — one right here in our community — that brought everyone back to reality as to what could possibly happen here in the real world.
“The death we had in Arviat was so unfortunate but people woke up after that to what could happen, even though everyone here was doing their part in following the health directives even before we had our first case.
“I never once felt like this was going to get away on us. I had complete faith in our community and our creator, we were just so unlucky that (Covid) was here so long spreading in the community with no one knowing about it.”
Savikataaq said he truly believes things are going to get back to normal soon, especially once herd immunity is reached with the vaccine.
He equates herd immunity to being a step closer to freedom, but, as of press time, only about 16.6 percent of Arviat’s population had booked an appointment for their vaccination.
Herd immunity usually hovers around 60 per cent of the population, but it is believed in some corners that it could be as low as 43 per cent for the corona virus.
“Dr. Patterson was asked about that during an Arviat-specific information session and his answer was a little over 500 had called in to make an appointment,” said Savikataaq.
“We have been campaigning very hard to mitigate fear and the misinformation circulating around social media isn’t making things any easier.
“This past Wednesday, the hamlet got nine Elders together to be the first in line for the vaccination before the community gets it to prove there’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting the vaccine because it is absolutely safe.
“Everyone who got the vaccination that day woke up the next morning.”
Savikataaq said one method the hamlet is using to try and beef up the number of people getting inoculated has been getting national attention.
He said some people see the step being taken as a controversial incentive.
“Once everything has been completed, we’re going to draw the names of five lucky people who received the shot and they’re going to receive $2,000 each.
“You know, during those 61 days of Covid here there were babies being born and there were many grandparents who couldn’t see their grandchild due to the restrictions.
“Imagine how they felt on Jan. 12 when they finally got to see them, so I’d like to say thank you to the people of Arviat for all their sacrifices, and I’d like to thank each and every one right across the country who prayed for Arviat during that time.”