Vaccination coverage in Nunavik, Quebec reaches 44 per cent of eligible population

“The Delta variant is now the most common in Quebec and is much more contagious than the others,” the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services said in a Facebook post on Thursday.  (Luca Bruno/The Associated Press)

As of August 22, vaccination coverage in Nunavik, the Inuit region of Arctic Quebec, reached 44 per cent of the population 12 years old and up, who have received two doses.

“Immunization coverage, between July 10 and August 22, increased by 6% for the entire population, to reach 34%. 44% of people who can be vaccinated (12 years and over) received two doses,” the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services (NRBHSS) said in a Facebook post last week when they released the new data.

“Efforts must be increased to reach the 75% target…The Delta variant continues to circulate throughout Canada and elsewhere in the world. It is highly contagious and can cause severe complications.”

Nunavik’s young population has made it more of challenge for the region to attain the vaccination numbers reached elsewhere in the province.

(As of September 20, 83 per cent of Quebecers 12 years and older have received two doses of the vaccine meaning 72 per cent of the total population is double vaccinated.)

A map showing the percentage of the eligible Nunavik population vaccinated as of August 22, the most recently released data. (Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services)

But in Nunavik, approximately 20 per cent of the population is under 12 years old. Currently, Health Canada has not yet approved any COVID-19 vaccine for use in children 11 years old or younger.

Delta variant raising concerns

The NRBHSS launched a school vaccination campaign on August 23 assisted by the Red Cross in order to boost vaccination numbers amongst Nunavik residents aged 12-18. 

There’s been no community spread of COVID-19 in Nunavik since March 2020, but health officials say they’re watching developments closely in the rest of the province where the  Delta variant continues to fuel a fourth-wave.

“The Delta variant is now the most common in Quebec and is much more contagious than the others, the NRBHSS said in a Facebook post on Thursday.

“An outbreak of COVID-19 in a community with a low vaccination rate could lead to many hospitalizations, medical evacuations and possible deaths.”

Vaccination uptake in Nunavik remains low in most communities. The regional health board has published graphics showing the difference vaccination would make should the Delta variant make its way to the region. The scenario above is for a community of 1,200 people in case of low coverage (on the left) and high coverage (one the right). (Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services)

Nunavik has a population of approximately 13,000 people and is made up of 14, fly-in only communities. 

Write to Eilís at eilis.quinn@cbc.ca 

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Nunavut, Canada clamps down on restrictions, makes mask mandatory as 2 cases reported in Kinngait, CBC News

Greenland: Greenland announces COVID-19 reopening plan, Eye on the Arctic

Iceland: Iceland to lift further COVID-19 restrictions September 15, Eye on the Arctic

Russia: Ten percent of population on Russia’s Kola Peninsula has been infected with COVID-19, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Sweden extends COVID-19 test recommendations for travellers from abroad, Radio Sweden

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 a 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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