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COVID-19: Pallister walks back plan to vaccinate Manitoba teachers in North Dakota

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister walked back a plan to see Manitoba teachers and school workers vaccinated in North Dakota on Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Premier Brian Pallister has backed off a plan that would have seen teachers and other school workers vaccinated against COVID-19 in North Dakota.

At a press conference last Thursday, Pallister said the province was working on a deal to allow teachers to drive into North Dakota, where vaccines are plentiful, to be inoculated.

Read more: Manitoba teachers can soon get COVID-19 shot in North Dakota, premier says

The province already has a program set up with North Dakota that allows Manitoba truck drivers who cross the border to receive a shot while they’re in the state.

Last week, Pallister had promised more details about the deal would come this week, but, after making no announcement, he admitted he was dropping the plan when asked by a reporter Friday.

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Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Manitoba teachers to be vaccinated in North Dakota' COVID-19: Manitoba teachers to be vaccinated in North Dakota
COVID-19: Manitoba teachers to be vaccinated in North Dakota – Apr 29, 2021

The Manitoba Teachers’ Society was against the idea, Pallister said, so North Dakota will instead ask the United States government for special permission to export its vaccines to Manitoba.

“It was my hope that we could have teachers vaccinated in North Dakota … (but) my friends at the Manitoba Teachers Union thought that was disrespectful,” Pallister said.

Read more: Manitoba and North Dakota look to vaccinate cross-border essential workers

“It wasn’t meant that way, (it) was meant to try to show, frankly, our government’s respect for the work of our teachers and to help facilitate those who could travel 45 minutes to get a vaccine.

“Nonetheless, we have continued our dialogue all last week and this week with regard to getting White House approval to allow vaccines to be shipped up here from North Dakota.”

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Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Federal health officials respond to news Manitoba teachers to be vaccinated in North Dakota' COVID-19: Federal health officials respond to news Manitoba teachers to be vaccinated in North Dakota
COVID-19: Federal health officials respond to news Manitoba teachers to be vaccinated in North Dakota – Apr 29, 2021

The Manitoba Teachers’ Society had long been calling for its members to be prioritized for vaccines and for schools in Winnipeg to move to remote learning due to rising COVID-19 infections, but president James Bedford called Pallister’s cross-border initiative a band-aid solution.

“You need a car, you need a passport, you need the right answers to questions you get asked at the border,” Bedford said last week.

Read more: COVID-19: Part of Manitoba’s plan to see teachers vaccinated in U.S. needs change to federal rules

“You get your shot, if you get a reaction I suppose it means a hospital stay in North Dakota that will weigh on folks on who picks up the bill for that.”

Pallister’s plan would have also needed to see the federal government add teachers to the list of essential workers exempt from mandatory 14-day quarantines after returning from another country, something Ottawa appeared noncommittal about last week.

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— 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.

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For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, visit our coronavirus page.

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