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Pop-up coronavirus vaccination site opens for priority First Nation members in Winnipeg

The Moderna vaccine is currently approved for ages 18 and older. A pop-up clinic for eligible First Nation members opened in Winnipeg this week. Andrew Vaughan-Pool / The Canadian Press

A pop-up COVID-19 vaccination site has opened in Winnipeg specifically for First Nation health-care workers, knowledge keepers, and traditional healers.

The site will have 889 appointments available in the coming days.

Read more: Coronavirus: Restaurants, gyms open under loosened health orders, UK variant in Manitoba

“This pop-up immunization site is based on our priorities for immunization, and built on a strong partnership among many organizations serving First Nation communities,” said Dr. Marcia Anderson, public health lead, Manitoba First Nations COVID-19 Pandemic Response Coordination Team.

“It recognizes the essential role that health care workers, Traditional Healers and Knowledge Keepers play in the health and wellness of our people.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Manitoba First Nations people over age 60 to receive COVID-19 vaccine in Stage 2 of rollout' Coronavirus: Manitoba First Nations people over age 60 to receive COVID-19 vaccine in Stage 2 of rollout
Coronavirus: Manitoba First Nations people over age 60 to receive COVID-19 vaccine in Stage 2 of rollout – Feb 1, 2021

“By protecting them, we protect each other.”

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The pop-up site in Winnipeg, along with  hubs in Thompson, The Pas and Flin Flon, were first announced last week when provincial and First Nations health officials revealed details of plans to vaccinate Manitoba’s First Nation communities.

Read more: 1,200 additional coronavirus vaccine doses available for Manitoba First Nations: health officials

As well as knowledge keepers and traditional healers, the plan first prioritizes health-care workers in remote or isolated communities, residents and staff of personal care homes and Elder care facilities, those aged 60 and over in remote and isolated communities, and people 70 and over in non-remote communities.

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“I’ve been looking forward to this day for a year,” said Michael David Blacksmith, a traditional ceremony and sundance leader from Pimicikamak Cree Nation who was given a shot this week.

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“The vaccine will help us get back to some sort of normal. It’s so important for Canadian society that we beat the virus and we need to beat it together.”

Health officials say eligible health-care workers who have received booking information from their employers should call to book their appointments at the Winnipeg pop-up site as soon as possible, due to what the province calls the limited-time nature of the pop-up clinic.

Read more: Manitoba reports 3 additional coronavirus deaths, 75 new cases

In total, 11,800 doses of vaccine have been allocated to First Nation communities, according to a provincial release.

As well as the pop-up site in Winnipeg, 63 First Nations communities have received shipments of vaccine since last month.

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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