Manitoba First Nations have begun receiving their second doses of Moderna vaccine to immunize on-reserve residents who received their first doses in January and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) says it is pleased that First Nations people 75 and older can now make vaccination appointments.
5,300 second doses of the Moderna vaccine started getting distributed to Manitoba First Nations Feb. 16 and the goal is to have communities receive their second doses as close as possible to 28 days after they got their first shipments.
First Nations leaders are also being advised to prepare for a surge in the amount of available vaccine in mid-March and to plan for how to ramp up operations to get members vaccinated.
“Earlier this week I wrote to the premier of Manitoba to let him know that continued collaboration in the fight against COVID-19 is necessary,” said MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee in a Feb. 25 news release. “While our provincial partners have made assurances to be transparent to First Nations, offering better communication of current and anticipated vaccine supplies for both First Nations and Manitoba, MKO will continue to work closely with the provincial government and hold them accountable regarding the vaccine rollout. We are also aiming to work closely with the federal government on vaccine planning and have once again requested a seat for our health expert Dr. Barry Lavallee at the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations.”
MKO says that the Thompson Vaxport immunization site by the airport won’t open until late March, about three weeks after it was previously scheduled to be, but that people receiving vaccines who would have gone to Vaxport will be immunized at the Thompson Regional Community Centre supersite beginning next week while Vaxport undergoes renovations.
A medical advisor to MKO says that while COVID-19 case numbers in Northern Manitoba are beginning to improve, the threat of outbreaks remains.
“Access to the COVID-19 vaccines remains top of mind as we near the one-year anniversary of living with the COVID-19 virus,” said Dr. Michael Routledge of MKO health organization Keewatinohk Inniiniw Minoayawin. ‘”We encourage everyone to become informed about the vaccine and to strongly consider accepting your vaccine once you become eligible.”
Vaccine eligibility was also expanded to any Manitoban aged 95 or older this week. Appointments can be made by eligible recipients or their family members or caregivers by calling 1-844-626-8222 (MANVACC).