All Indigenous adults in Manitoba now eligible for vaccines: province

All Indigenous Manitobans over 18 years old are now eligible to get a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

The Manitoba government announced May 3 that current vaccine eligibility requirements would be changed to include all Indigenous adults across Manitoba, regardless of where in the province they live. Indigenous adults can now book appointments for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at provincial supersites, urban Indigenous clinics or pop-up clinics - including at one in Flin Flon - by calling 1-844-626-8222. Appointments at supersites can also be booked online at protectmb.ca.

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The change goes into effect at 11:45 a.m. April 3.

“All Indigenous people are now able to make appointments at any super site, pop-up clinic or urban Indigenous vaccine clinic,” said provincial health minister Heather Stefanson in a press release.

“This will help people across the province access the vaccine and reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19 or having any serious outcomes, protecting themselves and their communities.”

According to the First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba (FNHSSM), between 12,000 and 13,000 Indigenous people have tested positive for COVID-19 during the pandemic - just under a third of all of Manitoba's reported COVID-19 cases. First Nations Pandemic Response Coordination Team public health lead Dr. Marcia Anderson also said Monday that Indigenous people have required admission to intensive care units due to COVID-19 at high rates.

“We have seen consistently that First Nations people have made up 50 to 60 per cent of all COVID-19 admissions to intensive care units, and we want to ensure that all Indigenous peoples in Manitoba can access the vaccine as soon as possible,” said Anderson.

“Getting the vaccine will not only protect the person, but also their family members and loved ones, which is critical to saving lives and protecting the capacity of the health-care system.”

Current Manitoba eligibility requirements currently allow all adults within the Northern Health Region (NHR) to book a vaccine appointment and receive their first dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Doses of AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccines are available for Manitobans aged 40 and up, with people in their 30s who have certain medical conditions also eligible.

Outside of the NHR, pregnant people over 18 years old can now book vaccines province-wide in Manitoba, along with all people age 50 and over, Community Living Disability services clients over age 18, frontline workers including police officers, firefighters and medical workers and people working in shelters and service facilities.

Just under 50,000 Indigenous Manitobans - including around 19,000 Indigenous people in northern Manitoba - have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

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