WHITEHORSE — Yukon is launching an online COVID-19 vaccine credential system, with the territory's premier saying there are no immediate plans for a vaccine mandate seen in other provinces and territories.
Premier Sandy Silver said Tuesday the credential will be available online and will help residents when they are asked for proof of vaccination in other jurisdictions, including when they travel.
The system will give residents the option of receiving a digital copy or printing a paper copy of their proof of vaccination.
Roughly 85 per cent of all eligible Yukon residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The territorial government doesn't require employees or people who want to access services to be vaccinated and Silver said he doesn't see that changing soon.
"We are leading the country in vaccination rates ... and based on advice, there is currently no need for a vaccination mandate," Silver said.
"It is up to the individual to decide if they wish to share their proof of COVID-19 vaccination credentials."
Dr. Catherine Elliott, the territory's acting chief medical officer of health, said there are 22 active COVID-19 cases in Yukon.
The 12-to-17 and 18-to-29 age ranges have a lower vaccination rate than other groups, and Elliott urged people in those age groups to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
The territory has also seen a few Delta variant cases, Elliott added, but high vaccination rates have meant the impact has been less severe.
"We are a few steps ahead of Western Canada," Elliott said Tuesday, referring to rising COVID-19 case numbers in British Columbia linked to the variant.
Elliott said a number of factors are considered, such as the rights of the individual and the collective group, when deciding if a vaccine mandate is required.
She used drinking and driving as an example where people have the right to drink alcohol, but society has determined that drinking and driving shouldn't be allowed due to the threats it poses.
Extending that analogy to vaccinations, Elliott said public health will decide when the individual's right to not get vaccinated threatens the collective good and forces the creation of a vaccine mandate.
"At this point, we do not recommend a mandatory vaccination in Yukon for any populations. We are looking closely at this question and things may change," she said.
Silver said the COVID-19 vaccine credential will be integrated into a wider system of credentials across the country, which will be used for international travel or travelling to other jurisdictions outside of the territory.
He also said the territory worked with other provinces and the federal government in developing its credential system.
— By Nick Wells in Vancouver.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 7, 2021.
The Canadian Press