Original released by the Manitoba Government, click here to view on their website


December 31, 2020

5,300 Doses Will Be Distributed Immediately to Protect First Nations People from COVID-19

With the first shipment of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine expected to arrive in Manitoba this week, the Manitoba government is working in collaboration with experts in First Nations health to position immediately the first doses of vaccine for deployment to northern and remote communities across the province.

“The successful collaboration between the province and First Nations health experts and representatives will ensure equitable access to vaccination treatments for all Manitobans,” said Dr. Joss Reimer, medical officer of health, Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living, and a member of Manitoba’s COVID-19 Vaccine Implementation Task Force. “Our shared priority is to distribute vaccine doses, beginning with the Moderna vaccine to protect vulnerable First Nations populations in northern and remote regions of the province.”

Manitoba expects to receive 7,300 doses of the Moderna vaccine this week and will make 5,300 of those doses available to address immediate First Nation priorities. Reimer noted Moderna is better suited for delivery to northern and remote communities than the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which currently has special storage and transportation requirements. Manitoba launched its immunization campaign in Winnipeg Dec. 16 with its first shipment of Pfizer, the first vaccine approved by Health Canada.

Manitoba invited the participation of experts in First Nations health and leaders from the Manitoba First Nations Pandemic Response Co-ordination Team and the Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin (KIM) Inc., this week and last week to inform provincial planning. Provincial officials met with health experts identified by the three grand chiefs of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC), Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), and the Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO). These experts are:

  • Dr. Marcia Anderson, appointed health lead AMC, medical officer of health, vice–dean of Indigenous health, Rady faculty of health sciences, University of Manitoba;
  • Dr. Barry Lavallee, appointed health lead MKO, CEO, Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin;
  • Melanie MacKinnon, appointed health lead, head of Ongomiizwin, Rady faculty of health sciences, University of Manitoba; and
  • Cindy Garson, appointed health lead SCO, director of health, Interlake Reserves Tribal Council.

They were joined by senior officials from the Canadian Armed Forces, Public Health Agency of Canada, Indigenous Services Canada and the chief medical officer of public health for Indigenous Services Canada. The province has asked these First Nations health experts to identify and prioritize segments of the population and even which northern and remote communities should be designated to receive the first limited doses of the Moderna vaccine. The province has committed to arranging for planes to be available to ship the vaccine to the priority locations.

“We are pleased at the partnership and spirit of collaboration that has developed and will continue as the delicate decisions around the deployment of this vaccine are made,” said Lavallee. “It is important that Indigenous voices are heard. As Indigenous health experts, we are at this table in support of First Nations people. We are needed at the table. This is very historic work. If the dialogue aids in creating a sense of partnership between First Nations and the provincial government as this process moves forward, that too will benefit everyone.”


“This partnership is also important because we will be looking more broadly at all First Nations populations across this province as more vaccines become available,” Garson noted.


“It is important for this work to occur together in partnership,” added MacKinnon. “It is imperative that we provide confidence to the public and to First Nation communities across the province in this process.”

Collaborative planning to protect health care in First Nation communities has included safe and convenient access to immunization for health-care providers, prioritization of First Nations elder care facilities with personal care homes throughout the province and including vulnerable First Nation populations in the joint planning process. The province has also offered joint training for First Nations immunization teams, access to its best practices and guiding documents, and agreed to collaborate on a promotional campaign on immunization.

Manitoba’s vaccine supply is based on a federal per capita allocation and the federal government has allotted 228,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to Manitoba by March 31, 2021. The province was successful in securing an additional 9,600 doses of the Moderna vaccine in the first quarter of 2021 due to Manitoba’s higher proportion of Indigenous population.
A dedicated Thompson vaccination site is being established to service northern and remote community needs including First Nations. Reimer noted this is a crucial part of the province’s northern Manitoba vaccination strategy, as it would allow distribution of the Pfizer vaccine by air and ground transportation from this centre to immunize people of northern and remote First Nations communities and surrounding communities.

For more information on Manitoba’s COVID-19 immunization plan, visit: www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/vaccine.

– 30 –


For more information:

Public information, contact Manitoba Government Inquiry: 1-866-626-4862 or 204-945-3744.

Media requests for general information, contact Communications Services Manitoba: 204-945-3765.

Media requests for ministerial comment, contact Communications and Stakeholder Relations: 204-945-4916.