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This last year brought unprecedented challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to change many things we took for granted – travelling, embracing our Elders, visiting our friends and family, holding community feasts, even some of our daily routines. We had to make changes to protect our health and the health of our communities.
In the past few months, we have witnessed and lived firsthand how the virus can impact our communities.
Vaccinating Nunavummiut is a vital step on Nunavut’s Path. It is one of the best defences we currently have against COVID-19.
The vaccine is not mandatory. No one will be forced to take the vaccine, and no one will receive the vaccine without consenting first.
The decision is an individual one, but one that will have a direct impact on our communities’ health, on Nunavut’s public health restrictions and on the ways we move forward in the months and year to come.
The Government of Nunavut (GN) will do its part to help Nunavummiut make this important decision by providing all the available information about the vaccine as it becomes available. Vaccine administration and delivery will be based in evidence, science based to protect the health and well-being of all Nunavummiut.
About the Moderna Vaccine
The first vaccine that will be available in Nunavut is Moderna’s mRNA vaccine. mRNA, stands for messenger RNA and is like a blueprint or recipe for one kind of protein your body manufactures. The Moderna vaccine delivers mRNA and teaches your body to make the proteins that will help defend you against COVID-19. mRNA vaccines cannot give you COVID-19 because they do not contain any part of the COVID-19 virus.
The Moderna vaccine is given in two doses – 28 days apart – and will be offered free to all eligible Nunavummiut over the age of 18.
Before approval, Moderna tested on 30,000 people, and this vaccine has been shown to be 94% effective at reducing the severity of infection due to COVID-19. At present, it isn’t known how effective the vaccine is at preventing transmission, which is why it is important that even after vaccination, people continue to follow public health measures. These health measures are also effective at preventing most respiratory infections.
Currently, the Moderna vaccine is not approved for use in people under the age of 18.
It is important that Nunavummiut inquire with their local health professionals, prior to receiving the vaccine if pregnant, breast feeding, are immunocompromised, suffer from an autoimmune disease or have allergies to one or more ingredients in the vaccine.
Moderna Vaccine ingredients:
- 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DSPC).
- acetic acid.
- lipid SM-102.
- polyethylene glycol (PEG) 2000 DMG.
- sodium acetate.
- tromethamine hydrochloride.
- water for injection.
Moderna Vaccine side effects:
Injection site reactions:
- Pain at the injection site.
- Muscle ache and stiffness.
- Swelling or redness at the injection site.
- Nausea and/or vomiting.
- Enlarged lymph nodes.
These are not all the possible side effects you may have when taking Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine. If you experience any side effects not listed here, tell your healthcare professional.
Should you develop any serious symptoms or symptoms that could be an allergic reaction, seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include:
- Hives (bumps on the skin that are often very itchy).
- Swelling of the face, tongue or throat.
- Difficulty breathing.
Vaccination providers are prepared to quickly treat allergic reactions. Anyone who experiences an allergic reaction, should not get a second dose of the vaccine.
Nunavut has extensive experience delivering vaccines across the territory. In 2009, health staff were able to vaccinate approximately 60 per cent of Nunavut’s population, in less than a month. Every year, the Department of Health rolls out a mass immunization program for annual influenza.
Nunavut has developed a vaccination strategy based on the Government of Canada’s allocation of vaccine and shipping timelines.
By the end of March 2021, the GN expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of Nunavummiut over the age of 18.
After the vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose.
Anyone who received their first dose should receive a reminder from their health centre about their second dose appointment. You must be in the same community for both doses. Please bring the following to your appointment:
- Nunavut health card or other valid ID (i.e. passport, drivers license, etc.) demonstrating residency at time of your appointment.
- Other applicable forms of ID: NTI enrollment cards, hunting licences, and documents such as rental agreements and QEC bills as proof of residency.
- List of medications and or allergies, or the medications themselves.
New residents or nurses, physicians, midwives, RCMP, EMS and fire fighters:
- Valid photo ID, such as a passport, healthcare card or driver's licence, and 1 of the following:
- proof of employment in Nunavut.
- reasonable proof of Nunavut residency (for example, a utility bill, lease, etc.).
- list of medications and or allergies, or the medications themselves.
Focused protection and Mass immunization:
The GN’s approach to vaccination will combine focused protection with mass immunization. This approach will allow the Department of Health to distribute the vaccine effectively, efficiently and ethically to all Nunavummiut while ensuring priority is given to people at the most risk of severe disease such as residents in long-term care and their caregivers.
The GN is confident the vaccine shipments will be reliable and consistent, which will allow the Department of Health to mass immunize communities in the near future.
Elders’ Facility clinics will be focused clinics with health staff going on site to administer the vaccine.
For more information on vaccine clinics in your community: