In response to the threat of a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Manitoba will expand vaccine eligibility criteria to include all adults in priority communities as well as first responders, Health and Seniors Care Minister Heather Stefanson announced today.
“Manitoba is taking action to ensure our immunization campaign responds to the risks facing our communities,” said Stefanson. “This comprehensive approach, built on the advice of our medical experts, is the next step in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting people at risk. Thousands of people are immunized in Manitoba every day and this approach will help ensure doses reach those who need protection from the virus the most, including our first responders such as police and firefighters and those who are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.”
Based on COVID-19 and public health data, people living in communities with the highest risk of the virus will be added to Manitoba’s eligibility criteria, including:
• all adults aged 18 or older who live there; and
• people with specified front-line, public-facing roles in those communities, such as teachers.
The province will also expand eligibility to include front-line police officers and firefighters.
“This is a targeted approach to ensure those most affected by COVID-19, who are often racialized or marginalized people, have access to the vaccine sooner,” said Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead, Vaccine Implementation Task Force. “Our approach will also help protect those who serve these communities on a daily basis, recognizing their increased risk of exposure as well as their importance to the community’s overall safety and wellness. I encourage everyone to make an appointment as soon as you are eligible, to protect yourselves and the people around you.”
Vaccine supply remains limited and there will not be enough vaccine to immunize everyone in these categories immediately. Manitoba will announce the first eligible communities on Apr. 21, along with specific guidance on jobs that will be included. Further details on when police and firefighters can book their appointments will be provided next week.
Community-based eligibility will continue to expand as vaccine supplies allow.
Reimer noted this expansion is consistent with the guidance set out by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, specifically “stage 2” priority groups. Once eligible people in priority communities are immunized, the province will expand criteria to include all Manitobans in NACI “stage 2”, which includes:
• adults in or from Indigenous communities (underway);
• residents and staff of congregate living facilities (underway);
• adults 60-69 years of age (underway);
• adults in racialized and marginalized communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19 (details to be provided next week, beginning with those living or working in specific communities);
• police and firefighters who are among the first to arrive and provide assistance at the scene of an emergency (details to be provided next week) and;
• frontline essential workers who cannot work virtually (details to be provided next week, for specified roles and in specific communities).
For more information about Manitoba’s COVID-19 immunization campaign, visit protectmb.ca.
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