A vaccination clinic starts Thursday in Arviat, Nunavut, the community that has seen most of the territory’s COVID-19 cases.
The municipality is encouraging residents to get vaccinated by offering cash prizes.
Residents of the central Nunavut hamlet of about 3,000 people can win one of five $2,000 prizes for getting the shot.
“It’s to entice people to get inoculated,” Arviat Mayor Joe Savikataaq Jr. said. “It’s a very small price to pay in order to get herd immunity here, in case we get a second wave.”
There are currently no active cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut, where 266 cases have been confirmed to date.
Since a COVID-19 outbreak began in early November, Arviat has seen 222 cases in total, including one reported death.
All residents have recovered, but health officials are still monitoring the community.
A charter plane carrying doses of the Moderna vaccine arrived in Arviat on Wednesday. The by-appointment clinic is being held from Thursday to Saturday and again on Monday at the town’s community centre, where 10 nurses will be on hand to vaccinate residents.
“It’s the day that we all have been waiting for here in Arviat,” Savikataaq said.
There will be a walk-in clinic on Saturday.
The municipal draw for cash prizes is to take place on Jan. 19, the day after vaccinations end, and will be announced live on the community’s local radio station and on Facebook.  
Arviat is one of four Nunavut communities where clinics are being held this week. Cambridge Bay, Igloolik and Gjoa Haven are also part of the first clinics. Vaccines have been given out in Iqaluit, Nunavut’s capital, as well as to residents of long-term care homes and their staff.
As of Tuesday, the territory was reporting that about 400 people had received a first-round dose of the Moderna vaccine.
Because Nunavut is a northern and remote region with a primarily Indigenous population, its residents fall into a national priority group for COVID-19 vaccination.
By the end of March, territorial health officials expect to have vaccinated up to 75 per cent of the adult population, or roughly 19,000 people.
Welcome to <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Arviat?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Arviat</a> for a very special visitor, the <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Moderna?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Moderna</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/vaccine?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#vaccine</a> . Fire Department and RCMP on hand to escort to town; clinic starting tomorrow! <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/StrongerTogether?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#StrongerTogether</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/nunavut?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#nunavut</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/VaccinesWork?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#VaccinesWork</a> <a href=”https://t.co/jnFO5ot6E3″>pic.twitter.com/jnFO5ot6E3</a>
Communities are currently dispensing vaccines from a stock of 6,000 doses that arrived in late December. Another 12,000 doses are expected to arrive by mid-February.
In Arviat, a lockdown was lifted on Tuesday, and travel is now allowed in and out of the community, but public health restrictions remain strict.
During the more than two months of lockdown faced by the community, Savikataaq said, children were born whose grandparents hadn’t been able to see them until this week.
He said the vaccines will bring relief to the community.
“It’s a very good safety measure that everyone is about to receive, and that’s a step closer toward freedom,” he said.

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