- Yukon will receive enough vaccines to immunize 75% of the adult population in the 1st 3 months of 2021.
- Based on predicted uptake of the vaccine, we expect all adult Yukoners who would like to receive the vaccine will have access.
The vaccine strategy has 3 key objectives
- Ensure the COVID-19 vaccine is safely and efficiently delivered to Yukoners.
- Ensure there is barrier-free access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Establish and maintain confidence in the process and the COVID-19 vaccine.
Priority populations in Yukon will include but are not limited to:
- residents and staff of group-living settings, such as long-term care homes, group homes and shelters;
- healthcare workers, including those who work in healthcare settings and personal support workers who work directly with patients and clients;
- people over 80 years of age who are not living in long-term care; and
- Yukoners living in rural and remote communities, including Yukon First Nations people.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020, developing safe and effective vaccines to reduce the transmission of the virus has been a global priority. Advances in science and technology and unprecedented levels of cooperation mean a COVID-19 vaccine will be available much sooner than was ever thought possible.
Yukon is ready to safely and efficiently deliver COVID-19 vaccines across the territory.
Widespread immunization will best protect Yukoners
Safe and effective vaccines will reduce the transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 and associated illnesses and deaths. Over time, widespread immunization will allow Yukoners to live with fewer restrictions as outlined in A Path Forward: Yukon’s plan for lifting COVID-19 restrictions.
You can read the strategy below or download a copy of the:
To protect everyone and stop the spread of COVID-19, Yukoners will:
- need to have easy access to the vaccine; and
- make the personal choice to get it.
The goal of Yukon’s COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy is to ensure that every adult Yukoner who wants to receive the COVID-19 vaccine can get it and, by organizations working together, get as many people as possible vaccinated in order to slow the rate of transmission.
We’ve adapted our ethical principles from the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Immunisation Plan: Saving Lives and Livelihoods.
Science-driven decision making
Our decision making on the use of COVID-19 vaccine will be based on:
- independent regulatory review;
- the advice of medical and other experts, including the National Advisory Committee on Immunization; and
- provincial and territorial immunization committees (which is composed of federal, provincial and territorial chief medical officers of health).
Science-driven decision making is essential to establish and maintain public confidence in the processes related to vaccines:
- administration; and
To maintain public trust, we’ll provide reliable, comprehensive and transparent information about all aspects of the vaccine. This includes:
- recommended use; and
- surveillance and monitoring.
We’ll engage with First Nations governments, municipalities, communities and stakeholders so they can provide appropriate information about the vaccines and immunization programs to their populations.
Our communication efforts aim to strengthen public confidence in the vaccine strategy and the vaccine. We’ll use plain language to communicate and culturally safe approaches to vaccine delivery.
Coherence and adaptability
All levels of government recognize the need for consistency in approaches to and communication about immunization. But we also need to allow for adaptability and flexibility in immunization planning and roll out.
A limited vaccine supply will be available initially. So, federal, provincial and territorial governments are working with First Nations, Inuit and Métis leadership to develop a clear and transparent process for the sharing of vaccines across Canada. Provincial and territorial governments are responsible for distributing vaccines to their populations.
We’ll rely on expert advice as the basis for decisions on:
- priority groups for immunization while vaccine supplies are limited; and
- the recommended use of authorized vaccines in Canada.
Fairness and equity
Fair and equitable access to vaccines guides the overall approach to immunization. There is more about these principles in the federal, provincial and territorial allocation framework for COVID-19 vaccines. We’re committed to ensuring fairness and equity in access to vaccines in the territory. We understand the unique requirements of people and communities throughout the territory. Our immunization plan will need to meet the needs of all Yukoners.
People are at the centre of an effective immunization program. Our government will effectively implement Yukon’s COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy by engaging with First Nations governments, communities, non-governmental organizations and stakeholders.
Consistent monitoring and reporting
We recognize that timely access to data is essential to an effective pandemic vaccine response. All elements of Canada’s public health system need timely and accurate information to monitor program rollout and to inform decision making.
We’re committed to effective monitoring and reporting on core elements of vaccine:
- administration; and
- safety and effectiveness
Accurate and timely data will enable effective delivery and use of vaccines across all jurisdictions. This will benefit Yukon and all jurisdictions in the country.
Cultural safety and humility
We recognize that there’s a historical legacy of colonialism and racism in Canada. Many Indigenous communities and people have experienced significant trauma, including from the treatment of communicable diseases. Indigenous communities and people experience documented healthcare inequities, this means that COVID-19 is a significant and unique risk. It’s vitally important that we support community-led approaches that eliminate any barriers to access for Indigenous Peoples in Yukon.
Over the coming weeks and months there will be new information regarding vaccine:
- distribution; and
- other logistical details.
While this will impact operational plans, Yukon’s COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy will be the guiding document. Our strategy has been developed based on the best available resources and information at this point in time.
Canada’s 3 territories will receive the Moderna vaccine. This is based upon recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization and the Special Advisory Committee and following negotiations among the federal government, provinces and territories.
Moderna has completed all clinical trials. Health Canada approved the vaccine on December 23, 2020.
The vaccine requires 2 doses (injections) with the 2nd dose given 28 days after the 1st dose. This timing is flexible within a 7-day window. All Yukoners will need to continue practising the Safe 6 plus 1 while they wait for their 2nd shot, and until enough people have completed their vaccine series. Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health will continue to provide regular updates on any changes to the Safe 6 plus 1 guidance and other current public health measures.
Vaccine storage and transportation
Vaccine storage and transportation requires strict temperature control at refrigerated or frozen temperatures. Moderna requires storage and transportation at -20 degrees Celsius. Yukon is well-positioned to meet these requirements.
Initially, vaccines may only be approved for people over the age of 18. To date, no COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for children or for pregnant people because clinical trials for those people have not been completed. We’ll continue to actively monitor the status of further approvals. We’ll provide updated information as it’s available.
We’re using our expertise in flu and other immunization rollouts to plan for storage and distribution throughout the territory. We’re confident in the vaccine rollout of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
Yukon and the other territories are expected to receive enough vaccine to immunize 75% of the population over the age of 18 from January 1 through March 31, 2021.
While our goal is to vaccinate all Yukoners, not every Yukoner will choose to be vaccinated. We expect that the allocation Yukon will receive in the first 3 months of 2021 means there will be enough vaccine for every adult Yukoner who chooses to be vaccinated. Should more than 75% of adult Yukoners choose to be immunized, more vaccine will be available in the second quarter of 2021.
All Yukoners who want to receive the vaccine will have access to it. We’ll take a phased approach for delivery and administration of vaccines. This approach will be determined by logistical needs and ensuring priority recipients are among the 1st to get access the vaccines.
Our operational plans will remain flexible to adapt to the delivery of the vaccine. Our plans will ensure the effective storage, distribution and administration based on the manufacturer and Health Canada’s requirements.
We’ll continue to engage with First Nations governments, municipalities, communities and stakeholders as details about vaccine delivery and quantities are confirmed.
Now that the vaccine has regulatory approval from Health Canada and is available in the territory, our 3 key objectives to ensure access to the vaccine for every Yukoner who wants it are to:
- ensure the COVID-19 vaccine is safely and efficiently delivered to Yukoners;
- ensure there is barrier-free access to the COVID-19 vaccine; and
- establish and maintain confidence in the process and the COVID-19 vaccine.
We’re committed to ensuring the COVID-19 vaccine is delivered safely and efficiently throughout the territory. This is a significant logistics challenge that needs the collaboration of many First Nations governments, municipal governments and Government of Yukon departments.
The Department of Health and Social Services is leading this effort. They’ll use the strength and expertise of the:
- Yukon Immunization Program;
- Yukon Communicable Disease Control;
- our 14 community health centres; and
- Yukon Hospital Corporation’s 3 hospitals.
Experience gained and lessons learned from our COVID-19 testing centres and flu clinics will be invaluable.
How we’ll ensure the safe and efficient delivery of the vaccine
Build on existing partnerships and expertise
The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine across the territory will build on the existing partnerships and expertise of key stakeholders. Each year, health system partners work together to deliver and administer thousands of vaccines across the territory. The flu clinic offered in Whitehorse this year was developed as a template for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. More than 14,000 Yukoners were vaccinated over a 6-week period. The success of the flu clinic gives us a strong foundation on which to build this COVID-19 vaccine strategy.
The safe and efficient delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine to Yukoners will involve:
- public and primary health care nurses;
- community health centre staff;
- Health and Social Services’ Emergency Preparedness team;
- Community Services’ Emergency Measures Organization;
- Yukon Hospital Corporation staff; and
- other health system partners.
We’ll also engage other local and federal partners throughout the process, including the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Establish vaccine clinics
To ensure the COVID-19 vaccine is safely and efficiently delivered, vaccine clinics will be established to deliver the immunizations. These clinics will be supported by health professionals, including nurses and other COVID-19-specific staff such as:
- screeners; and
Centralized venues will ensure that we can complete thorough risk assessments, and accommodate the Safe 6 plus 1 guidelines, including physical distancing requirements.
Support the distribution of the vaccine
The federal government and Moderna will support the transportation of COVID-19 vaccines Yukon. Distribution across Canada is being managed through the Immunization National Operation Centre for COVID-19. To ensure safety and traceability of the vaccine, we’re working with logistics experts from Joint Task Force North who are supporting our planning efforts.
Monitor and report on the vaccine
COVID-19 vaccines undergo the same stringent Health Canada approval processes as any other vaccine. As part of the process, an immunization surveillance system will monitor the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. This system will track when we achieve a level of vaccine uptake necessary to slow disease transmission.
We need to monitor vaccinations to:
- identify the timing for a 2nd dose;
- track uptake; and
- observe outcomes and adverse events.
We have a single electronic information system – Panorama – that we use to maintain a record of all immunizations and vaccine inventories in the territory. Similar to any other vaccine, COVID-19 vaccine safety monitoring will be undertaken on territorial, provincial, national and global levels. Monitoring will be shared among governments.
If safety issues are confirmed, we’ll take appropriate action with Health Canada, such as communicating with the public and taking risk-mitigation measures.
We’re committed to ensuring that all Yukoners who want to receive a COVID-19 vaccine can. We want to ensure there’s “barrier-free” access for all Yukoners.
How we’ll ensure access
Provide the vaccine to Yukoners for free
Yukoners will receive the vaccine for free. Our government and the Government of Canada will cover all costs associated with vaccine:
- transportation; and
Provide the vaccine at many locations
We’re committed to bringing the vaccine to communities through the use of mobile vaccine clinics. When the clinics are in the communities, all adults who would like to be vaccinated will be. Working closely with community health centres, First Nations governments, communities and non-governmental organizations, we’ll make every effort to make the vaccine available to every adult Yukoner who wants it. This will include providing transportation and escorts for Yukoners who need support to access the vaccine. Targeted communications for each community will help ensure all Yukoners know when and where they can access the vaccine.
We’ll use Yukon Hospital Corporation resources in Dawson and Watson Lake. In Whitehorse, the majority of vaccinations will be completed at 1 vaccination clinic based on the successful model of the 2020 Whitehorse flu clinic.
We’ll bring the vaccine to people living in long-term care homes and people who are homebound and receive home care services. This will cut down on unnecessary travel and further protect our vulnerable people.
We’re developing operational plans to reduce barriers for other vulnerable population groups such as:
- the housing challenged; and
- other Yukon social services clients.
This could include adding vaccination clinics.
Coordinate efficient timing and sequencing of vaccine rollout
We need to be efficient with our time as work to get as many people vaccinated as possible in order to reduce the rate of transmission. The goal is to reach all of the adult population in Yukon as quickly as possible.
Details about what order communities will get the vaccine (called “sequencing”) will be part of ongoing engagement with First Nations governments and key stakeholders. These decisions will depend on the:
- timing and quantity of shipments received; and
- realities of distributing the vaccine throughout Yukon.
Priority recipients for the vaccine
We anticipate that from January 1 through March 31, 2021, we’ll receive enough supply of the vaccine to immunize 75% of the adult population. That said, Yukon’s strategy will involve the sequencing of the vaccine to some priority populations as soon as the 1st shipment arrives.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization and the Special Advisory Committee provide guidance on who are priority populations.
We’ll determine our priorities in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health. We’ll make our decisions based on the epidemiology at the time that the vaccine is available.
Priority populations in Yukon will include but are not limited to:
- residents and staff of group living settings who provide care for seniors and for vulnerable populations, including in long-term care homes and shelters;
- health care workers, including those who work in healthcare settings and personal support workers who work directly with patients and clients;
- older adults who are not in long-term care, initially including those who are over 80 years of age;
- adults aged 75 to 80, 70 to 75, 65 to 70; and
- people living in rural and remote communities, including Yukon First Nations people.
As operational and logistical planning are further defined we’ll announce decisions about how best to reach priority populations and Yukoners over 18 years of age.
For the immunization rollout to be a success, Yukoners must be confident in the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines and understand government decisions on priority populations and sequencing. Yukoners need trustworthy information to make informed choices about immunization.
How we’ll instil confidence in the process and the vaccine
Be open and transparent
We’ll provide ongoing access to comprehensive, accurate and clear information about the available vaccines and our immunization plans in partnership with:
- First Nations governments;
- health professionals; and
Yukoners will have the most up-to-date and accurate information to keep their families and themselves safe. This will include:
- news conferences;
- updates on Yukon.ca; and
- a public awareness campaign using radio, printed materials and social media.
We’ll encourage Yukoners to use trusted sources to get the latest news and accurate information, such as:
Communicate the scientific evidence about the vaccine
While the timeliness of vaccine delivery is essential, all vaccines go through a rigorous multi-phase clinical trial process to ensure high quality products and results. Health Canada has a robust, proven, world-class regulatory system that uses tested safety protocols to determine which vaccines are safe and effective in preventing the diseases they target.
We assure Yukoners that we have a strong immunization surveillance system. It will monitor the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. We’ll communicate existing and emerging evidence about the vaccines as it becomes available.
In order for this strategy to be successful, we’ll need all Yukoners to work together. To ensure that Yukon’s COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy and approach take into account population and community needs, we’re committed to engaging with:
- Yukon First Nations governments and leadership;
- communities and municipalities;
- non-governmental organizations;
- healthcare providers; and
- the public.
We’ll ensure that partners and stakeholders are informed throughout the processes and that there’s opportunity for meaningful discussion to support the rollout of the strategy.
National immunization approach
COVID-19 immunization requires close collaboration between all levels of government, Indigenous Peoples, experts and partners in Canada. The Government of Canada has taken a leadership role for the country’s approach to immunization, working with provinces and territories to ensure there’s a coordinated and equitable approach across Canada.
Federal responsibilities include:
- procuring vaccinations;
- authorizing and approving vaccines for use;
- distributing vaccines on behalf of, and to, jurisdictions;
- providing guidance and recommendations on vaccine use; and
- national surveillance and reporting.
Ensuring the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines
Health Canada has a trusted and robust approval system to ensure vaccines are safe and effective. Clinical trials are an important requirement of this review. In clinical trials, patients are:
- carefully selected;
- given the vaccine; and
- followed closely under controlled conditions.
Before Health Canada approves a vaccine it must successfully complete several phases of clinical trials and demonstrate:
- efficacy; and
- high and consistent quality.
Similar to any other vaccine, decision making on COVID-19 vaccine use in Canada is based on:
- independent regulatory review; and
- the advice of experts, including the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.
Health Canada has already received submissions for the authorization of several vaccines and reviews are progressing well.
Population immunity also known as “herd immunity” means that enough people in any given population were vaccinated so that the chain of transmission is broken. The percentage of people who need to be vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity varies with each disease. For example, herd immunity against measles requires about 95% of a population to be vaccinated. The remaining 5% will be protected by the fact that measles will not spread among those who are vaccinated. For polio, the threshold is about 80%.
We still do not know what level of vaccine uptake is needed to achieve herd immunity for COVID-19. At this point, it would be reasonable to assume that 75% vaccine uptake of an adult population should provide some level of herd immunity
National allocation and sequencing strategy
While there will be more than enough vaccines to immunize every Canadian in the coming year, the initial shipment of vaccines from January 1 to March 31, 2021, (track 1) will be sufficient to immunize approximately 3 million people. This is expected to include 2 COVID-19 vaccines – 1 from Moderna and the other from Pfizer.
A national approach to allocation and sequencing guidance has been developed because there will be a limited supply of vaccines available in track 1 (January 1 through March 31, 2021).
Based on the expert advice of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization and the chief medical officers of health across the country, the federal, provincial and territorial governments have approved guidance for vaccine allocation amounts.
Yukon’s COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy was developed based on the most current information available but several unknowns remain. As information becomes available, we’ll:
- finalize plans that outline logistics, dates and times for vaccine rollout in the territory;
- continue to engage First Nations governments, communities, municipalities and other stakeholders; and
- communicate with all Yukoners about the vaccine and how, where and when they can get vaccinated.
Widespread immunization is the best option to protect all Canadians from COVID-19. Vaccinations will be available in 2021 to all eligible Canadians. Yukon and Canada’s other 2 territories are in the fortunate position of receiving vaccinations for all citizens who want it between January 1 and March 31, 2021.
Yukon’s COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy provides an overview of the plan for vaccine rollout in the territory. As information from the Government of Canada evolves daily, this strategy is designed to be flexible to adapt to the changing plans and possible challenges that may arise in the weeks and months ahead.
Yukoners can feel confident that as information becomes available, we’ll share it through our trusted sources.
Ensuring Yukoners have access to a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is a critical step. But it’s important to remember that Yukoners need to continue working together to keep each other safe. Yukoners must continue to:
- practise the Safe 6 plus 1; and
- follow COVID-19 public health measures until the territory’s Chief Medical Officer of Health recommends otherwise.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on our communities. Yukoners throughout the territory can be proud of their continued strength and resilience as they work to protect each other. Addressing the threat of COVID-19 is a shared responsibility. By working together and following our Safe 6 plus 1 practices, we've succeeded in:
- slowing the spread of the virus; and
- protecting the most vulnerable Yukoners and communities.
The partnerships we’re forging today to support our COVID-19 pandemic response will enable Yukon’s public health system and Yukoners to emerge from this pandemic stronger and more resilient.