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Manitoba shipping 5,300 vaccine doses to First Nations communities

A registered pharmacist technician carefully fills the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccine at a vaccine clinic during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

First Nations throughout Manitoba will be receiving doses of the Moderna vaccine as early as Thursday in an attempt to stem the tide of the COVID-19 pandemic, the province said.

In a statement, Premier Brian Pallister said 5,300 doses were being shipped — with more to come — to cover all 63 First Nations communities in the province.

Pallister said the initial groups that will receive priority for the vaccines will be essential health-care workers, people in care homes and the elderly.

“This closely mirrors the priority groups that Manitoba’s Vaccine Implementation Task Force has established for the province as a whole, and reflects the importance of using our limited supply of vaccine to protect our health-care system and those most at risk of serious illness,” he said.

“This is a milestone for Manitoba, but it is not the end of our fight against this deadly virus. After the first 5,300 vaccine doses are transported today, there is still more work to do.

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“We have committed another 5,300 doses for First Nations communities next month and will continue to collaborate on an equitable, timely and effective response to COVID-19.”

SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. Global News

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says the first shipments have gone out to communities with personal care homes or elder homes including Cross Lake, Norway House, Fisher River Cree Nation, and Peguis First Nation.

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Plans are also being made to get the doses to Nisichawayawsihk, Opaskwayak, Sagkeeng, Sioux Valley and Bunibonibee.

Grand Chief Jerry Daniels of the Southern Chiefs Organization said Indigenous people — both on and off reserve — should be prioritized, as they make up 49 per cent of active cases, 29 per cent of Manitoba’s total hospitalizations and half of COVID-19-related intensive care patients in the province.

“This is a significant day in the COVID-19 pandemic,” Daniels said on Wednesday.

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“Our Treaty partners have responded to our urgent request for additional doses. This will ensure all First Nation people and health care staff in Personal Care Homes, and all those over 60 years of age in remote communities, and over 70 years of age in non-remote communities, will be offered a vaccine in Stage One of the distribution beginning tomorrow.”

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