Greenland authorities buoyed by high demand for COVID-19 vaccine

“The health service has recently received many inquiries from citizens who want to be vaccinated and from citizens who initially refused, but who have now changed their minds,” said Health Service Director Joanis Erik Kotlum in news release on January 18. “We consider this to be very positive.” (James Arthur Gekiere/Belga/AFP/via Getting Images)
Greenland authorities say that after initial wariness about COVID-19 vaccines amongst parts of the population, vaccinations are now in high demand with the first shipment of 1,305 doses received at the beginning of the year already exhausted.

“The health service has recently received many inquiries from citizens who want to be vaccinated and from citizens who initially refused, but who have now changed their minds,” said Health Service Director Joanis Erik Kotlum in news release on January 18. “We consider this to be very positive.”

“We are pleased that both the Health Service’s staff, and citizens, accept the offer of vaccination against COVID 19. This means that we are well equipped for the last part of the fight against the coronavirus.” 

Greenland received the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine with initial distribution in the capital city of Nuuk and the town of Ilulissat.

The first round of doses was not enough to vaccinate all priority groups in Nuuk, but Kotlum says information about the arrival of further doses for the capital will be available within the next few weeks.

Initial distribution of COVID-19 Vaccine
An undated photo of Greenland’s capital city of Nuuk. More vaccine will be needed to complete the vaccination of priority groups in the capital, say health authorities. (iStock)

Greenland’s initial vaccine doses was split between the captial of Nuuk and the town of Ilulissat.

Here’s how the doses were distributed:

Geographically

Nuuk – 903 doses

Ilulissat – 402 doses

By population

Frontline health care staff – 396

Frontline nursing home staff – 133

Nursing home residents, seniors and those with prior health conditions – 776

Source: Government of Greenland

Ongoing concerns over UK variant

The second shipment of vaccines has gone to three different Greenlandic communities: Qaqortoq, Aasiaat and Sisimiut.

“The amount of vaccines is limited and therefore it’s a priority which groups the vaccines should go to in the first instance,” Kotlum said. “First and foremost, nursing home residents, elderly citizens, frontline staff in the care and health sector and citizens with prior health conditions.”

But despite the vaccine roll-out, the government says the population needs to keep strictly following public health directives, especially as the UK variant, which it describes as “significantly more contagious,” continues to spread in Denmark.

Greenland is an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: COVID-19 vaccine campaign gets underway in Inuit region of Arctic Quebec, Eye on the Arctic

Denmark: Who is allowed into Denmark from Sweden right now?, Radio Sweden

Iceland: COVID-19 variant prompts Iceland to require quarantine for children entering country as of January 13, Eye on the Arctic

Russia: Russia’s Northern Fleet begins 2nd stage of COVID-19 vaccination, Radio Canada International

Sweden: Sweden’s northernmost county among regions to introduce stricter COVID-19 recommendations, Radio Sweden

United States: After early containment success, there’s now rapid COVID-19 spread in rural Alaska, including the Arctic, Alaska Public Media

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying an culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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