Nunavut News article published March 1, 2021
The Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team (AIFHT) is hosting ongoing clinics that started Feb. 17 to deliver Covid-19 vaccines to Inuit in Ottawa, one of Canada’s southern cities with the largest population of Inuit.
About 200 people within the first few days of the clinic were vaccinated.
“We’re working through the initial start-up hiccups and glitches and smoothing out our processes,” said Conne Siedule, executive director of the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team.
“We’re looking to step up the rollout in the upcoming days. Everyone is really happy to receive the vaccine today and to see each other. I’ve never seen people so happy to receive an immunization before.”
The vaccination clinic has also seen some unexpected reunions between people.
“We’ve had two patients in the other day who had not seen each other for 50 years,” said
Siedule. “They happened to have their appointments around the same time, they were so happy to see each other and they were just catching up and doing all that stuff.”
The mood among the Family Health Team and it’s patients has continued to be positive.
“All of our vaccine staff have said how happy everybody is and how cheerful it is, it’s been very exciting for us to be able to provide this for all Inuit here.”
The AIFHT has maintained its hours during Covid to help with culturally sensitive care for Inuit living in Ottawa.
“We’ve been open throughout the pandemic, we’ve been open everyday and being able to see patients if they needed to, we were also able to provide virtual appointments if that was possible,” said Siedule.
Inuit have also been able to get tested for Covid-19 with the AIFHT clinic being a designated Covid-19 centre.
“Every day it (number vaccinated) goes up, we’re stepping up our vaccine doses everyday.” She adds that this is important as Inuit are generally more vulnerable to the virus.
“Our activities throughout the pandemic have been important because the risk among Inuit for Covid-19 complications and rapid decline is extreme.”
“Once it hits it can be very rapid.”
Inuit in Ottawa can book an appointment to get vaccinated with Akausivik by calling 613-740-0999, the clinic hours are 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.
All Inuit adults are able to receive it, however those aged 55 or older will be given priority for the vaccine.