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For immediate release
February 25, 2021
Treaty Five Territory, Thompson, MB – Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) is issuing this statement to provide an update on COVID-19 vaccines for MKO First Nations.
MKO’s experts who take part in Manitoba’s COVID-19 Vaccine Implementation Task Force have been working diligently on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, including the distribution of second dose shipments to First Nations; planning for increased human resources for phase two of the vaccine rollout; progressing plans for the Vaxport supersite in Thompson; and preparing for the provincial launch of vaccinations for First Nation Elders.
“We are pleased First Nations people across Manitoba who were born on or before December 31, 1945, can now call to book their COVID-19 vaccine appointments,” shared Grand Chief Garrison Settee. “Family members or other support people can assist Elders with booking these appointments. The number to call to book the appointment is 1-844-626-8222.”
As vaccine supply increases and age cohorts near completion, further age groups will become eligible to book their vaccines. MKO expects First Nations people to receive services in a culturally respectful way so Elders do not experience barriers when booking their appointments or when attending their vaccination appointments.
On February 16, the distribution of 5300 Moderna vaccines began for First Nations in Manitoba—these vaccines are for second doses for those who received vaccinations on reserve in January. The timing of deliveries is based on a combination of the first shipment schedule to the First Nations along with the dates of when their vaccination clinics began. The target is for First Nations to receive the second shipment of vaccines as close to the 28-day mark as possible. All First Nations were informed in early January that second doses would be slightly delayed due to Moderna supply schedules.
MKO encourages First Nation leadership and health human resources to start preparing for an increase of vaccine supply to their communities, as large shipments of both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are anticipated in Manitoba in mid-March 2021. Planning is underway for the second phase of the expanding First Nation vaccine rollout, with First Nations being engaged to review options for surge capacity.
The Vaxport vaccination supersite at the Thompson airport was originally slated to open on March 1, 2021. The opening is being delayed for about three weeks. Starting next week, Vaxport clients will be relocated to the Thompson Regional Community Centre to receive their vaccinations while the Vaxport location is undergoing renovations.
“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 Grand Chief Settee. “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.”
“Access to the COVID-19 vaccines remains top of mind as we near the one-year anniversary of living with the COVID-19 virus. We encourage everyone to become informed about the vaccine and to strongly consider accepting your vaccine once you become eligible. Although there is evidence that case numbers in Northern Manitoba are starting to improve, it is important for everyone to follow public health recommendations to prevent new outbreaks,” stated Dr. Michael Routledge, medical advisor to MKO and the health entity Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin.
MKO will continue to provide updates on the COVID-19 vaccine for Northern First Nations as more information becomes available.
For more information:
Melanie Ferris, MKO Communications
Email: [email protected]