North Dakota to give Manitoba truck drivers the COVID-19 vaccine
WINNIPEG -- The Manitoba government and the State of North Dakota are working together on a joint initiative to help essential workers get vaccinated.
“Our number one limiting factor in protecting Manitobans from this deadly virus is the availability of COVID-19 vaccines,” Premier Brian Pallister said.
To help deal with this limited vaccine supply, Pallister and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum announced the ‘Essential Workers Cross-Border Vaccination Initiative’ on Tuesday, which will see North Dakota provide COVID-19 vaccines for Manitoba-based truck drivers who cross the border into the United States as part of their work.
“These hardworking Manitobans keep our economies moving, they keep our people fed, and they keep us all supplied with the goods that we need and that we rely upon,” Pallister said.
These immunizations will take place during the drivers’ routine trips to the United States over the next six to eight weeks.
To be eligible for this initiative:
- Truck drivers have to be able to cross into the United States and return to Canada without the required quarantine under federal public health rules;
- Drivers must have a valid Manitoba Class 1 Licence;
- Drivers must be on an assignment at the time of their vaccination.
The province noted that, with the help of the Manitoba Trucking Association, drivers will be notified of their eligibility.
Manitoba estimates that through this initiative, 2,000 to 4,000 truck drivers will be fully vaccinated.
“I hope this will lay the groundwork for others for an eventual safe reopening of our shared border, for travel to return, for mutual tourism to be developed again,” Pallister said.
North Dakota will provide both the first and second shots to eligible drivers, as well as follow the recommended dose schedule.
“The U.S. has got a lot of vaccines and Canada has got less, so this an opportunity for us to work together, starting with essential workers,” Burgum said.
He noted that North Dakota will be administering Moderna and Pfizer vaccines during this pilot program.
EXPANDING THE INITIATIVE
Pallister noted the province hopes to expand this initiative and help other vaccination needs in Manitoba.
“I’m very interested in exploring this further with the governor,” Pallister said.
“We have a border between us. It shouldn’t be a barrier between getting people vaccinated.”
He said one other group that could potentially get vaccinated through this initiative is military personnel, though this idea is still premature.
Burgum said that he’s spoken to the Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe about the potential of expanding the initiative to the province.