Manitoba funds clinics to help Indigenous people get vaccinated against COVID-19
The Manitoba government is investing in helping increase vaccination rates among First Nations, Metis and Inuit people.
The province announced on Friday that it is investing nearly $2.8 million to go towards supporting and expanding the roles of urban Indigenous vaccine clinics.
The investment is in partnership with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO).
Of the investment, $2.1 million is earmarked to extend the clinics at the Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre and Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata location in Winnipeg until December 2021.
Another $250,000 will also go to these organizations for mobile vaccine clinics which will operate in Downtown Winnipeg and in Point Douglas neighbourhoods which will include door-to-door outreach.
Clinics in Portage la Prairie, Thompson and Brandon will also be extended until the end of the year with a $347,000 investment. Those clinics include the Portage la Prairie Renewal Corporation, Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre in Thompson, and the Brandon Friendship Centre.
A new staff position will open up at Ongomiizwin Health Services with a $65,000 investment. This position will be a liaison between the vaccine task force, Indigenous governance organizations, and vaccine providers.
Lastly, $33,000 will go to immunization clinics that were held by the Manitoba Inuit Association that happened earlier this year.
David Monias, Vice-Chief of the MKO, said he is happy to see the government is stepping up to help the Indigenous community.
"We can only do this in unity, we can only do it together, to fight together, to protect our citizens, the most vulnerable people," said Monias.
Mayor Brian Bowman added this is an important step in removing barriers for people to be vaccinated.
"We're all Manitobans, we're all Canadians and our battle is against this virus," said Bowman.
With the investment, the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre and the Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre are now open to all community members in addition to Indigenous people.
The centres will also provide influenza vaccines in the fall and youth catch-up immunizations for anyone who has missed vaccines over the last two years.
Della Herrera, the executive director of the Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre, said this investment allows the centre to support those living in encampments.
"Our goal is to visit every encampment under the bridge community in as many populated meeting hubs as we can over the next three months," said Herrera. "This extension will allow us to provide QR codes and vaccine cards to our community."
Dr. Marcia Anderson, the public health lead of the Manitoba First Nation Pandemic Response Coordination Team, said as of Thursday vaccine coverage for people living on reserve is over 90 per cent, and added that only 16 per cent of people in hospital are First Nations and there is only one First Nations person in ICU with COVID-19.