All adults living in Northern Manitoba are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and the province is expanding community-based eligibility to another area of Winnipeg designated a hot spot for the virus.
As of 11:45 a.m. Monday, Manitoba is expanding its COVID-19 vaccination priority program to include all adults in the northern health region and in the Seven Oaks West neighbourhood in Winnipeg.
Anyone 18 years old and up who doesn’t live in those areas but who works there in certain public-facing jobs such as teachers, grocery store or convenience store workers, those working in food-processing facilities, gas stations, anywhere that serves food, and childcare staff can also get a shot.
“The vaccine is one way we can slow the spread of this virus and control the third wave of COVID-19,” said Dr. Joss Reimer, lead of the province’s vaccine implementation task force.
“We are seeing that everyone, including younger people, is experiencing more severe outcomes from COVID and it is important that we adjust our eligibility criteria to reflect what we know, so we can protect those at risk.
“More than one-third of Manitobans have been immunized, and I’d encourage everyone to do the same as soon as they are eligible.”
Seven Oaks West resident Wendy Daien says it comes as no surprise that her community is being included.
“We’ve been a hotspot, there has been a lot (of cases) in this area,” Daien said.
But Daien says the expanded criteria in the community is also a relief to her family, as her 23-year-old daughter has underlying medical conditions and booked a vaccine appointment as soon as the news came out.
“She has Crones and she receives infusions every six weeks and so we’ve sort of been anxiously awaiting to hear the news, so I was very pleased,” she said.
“She got on at 11:45 and booked for a location on Leila Avenue, and no problem whatsoever.”
Health officials say they may also need to enhance vaccination resources in the communities of The Pas, Flin Flon, and Thompson to accommodate the expanded eligibility, but other communities in the Northern Health Region are already well-equipped.
The Pas mayor Herb Jaques welcomes the news.
“The vaccine rollout has been a little bit confusing in the north, (but) they seem to be getting some wind in their sails now,” Jaques said. “If they can get more people vaccinated, great. I don’t see another way out of this without the vaccine so let’s get er’ done.”
The province announced similar priority measures last week for three neighbourhoods in central Winnipeg, including Downtown East, Point Douglas South, and Inkster East.
Vaccination appointments can be made by calling 1-844-626-8222 (1-844-MAN-VACC) or online. More information, including a map highlighting the eligible neighbourhoods is available on the province’s website.
Elsewhere in the province, the minimum age for vaccinations remains at 30 and up for First Nations people, and 40 and up for others.
Manitoba has seen its COVID-19 numbers rise in recent weeks and the government announced stricter public health measures later in the day Monday.
Starting Wednesday, people will not be allowed to have any visitors at their homes, indoors or out, with some exceptions for people who live alone.
Attendance at religious services will be cut to a maximum of 10 people.
Food courts in shopping malls will have to close, and retail store capacity will be reduced to 25 per cent from 33 per cent.
The province’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, says the measures will be in place for four weeks and are needed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Health officials reported 210 new COVID-19 cases Monday and one death. There were 148 people in hospital due to COVID-19, with 37 in intensive care.
The percentage of people testing positive, averaged over five days, has risen as well. It stood Monday at 7.6 per cent provincially and 8.2 per cent in Winnipeg.
–With files from The Canadian Press
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, visit our coronavirus page.
— With files from Marney Blunt.