Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre to help immunize Indigenous people against COVID-19

The Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre in Thompson is one of five sites around the province working in partnership with the provincial government to help immunize more Indigenous people against COVID-19.

An immunization clinic at the site is expected to open in the first week of May and 20 per cent of all vaccinations will be done on a walk-in basis.

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“The Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre is pleased to host a vaccination clinic in a location that Indigenous people already trust and attend for programs and services,” said the centre’s executive director Dee Chaboyer. “Offering additional supports such as interpretation, support, guidance and assistance in a culturally sensitive location will help ease tensions and fears and provide a comfortable experience for those who might otherwise be hesitant. The Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre encourages everyone to do their part and get vaccinated!”

The other four clinics will be in Brandon, Portage la Prairie and Winnipeg.

Appointments for vaccinations at these sites can be made through the provincial call centre (1-844-626-8222) and the clinics will try to provide services such as child minding or children’s activity kits as well as having elders and traditional knowledge keepers on site regularly, with traditional ceremonies, smudging and traditional medicines offered at some sites as well.

“These new immunization sites are an important option for people who would otherwise face barriers in accessing immunization, recognizing that Indigenous people have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” said Health and Senior Care Minister Stefanson. “These locations have been developed with the guidance and expertise of our community partners, and we are grateful for their support. By working together, we can help protect each other from this virus.”

The Thompson site, along with those in Brandon and Portage la Prairie, will also help immunize homeless or precariously housed people and provide them with comfort kits including food and over-the-counter pain medication. Focused Immunization Teams will also be visiting Manitoba’s homeless shelters in the coming weeks to provide immunizations to homeless people aged 18 and up.

Indigenous leadership and partnerships improve health-care quality and access for Indigenous people,” said Dr. Marcia Anderson, public health lead for the First Nations Pandemic Response Coordination Team. “This is critical for the success of Manitoba's vaccine rollout and our shared goals of protecting the people we love and protecting the capacity of the health-care system.”

Between 50 and 60 per cent of all intensive care unit admissions in Manitoba resulting from COVID-19 have been First Nations people, the province says.

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