WINNIPEG - The province says Shared Health will begin issuing new immunization cards for Manitobans who have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Premier Brian Pallister says the government expects the cards will be a temporary measure as evidence that someone’s been vaccinated twice, noting that as more of the population gets vaccinated, the benefits of the card will become less relevant.
Those benefits include being permitted to travel within Canada without having to self-isolate upon return to Manitoba, not being required to self-isolate if a card-bearer has been found by public health to have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, and showing that a card-bearer can more safely visit loved ones who live in a personal care home.
Pallister says the cards themselves don’t contain any personal health information, but rather the bearers first and last names and a QR code that can be scanned by healthcare workers. A digital card is automatically issued, and a physical card will be available by mail as requested.
Explaining why the immunization card "matters," Pallister says, “Vaccines are the way out of this pandemic. “Vaccines are how we get our lives back in the short term and in the long term.”
“As this pandemic pile up continues to push back necessary treatments and surgical procedures for so many Canadians, it's a monumental challenge to get that fixed,” Pallister explains, citing not only the pandemic’s impact on the healthcare system and individual Manitobans, but also on the availability of goods and services, and on small businesses and the livelihoods of those who depend on jobs that have been lost.
The premier also says immunization is a way toward having some fundamental freedoms restored. “We need those freedoms back,” Pallister says. “You want to be able to go to a wedding, want to be able to dine in a restaurant, you want to be able to go to the gym, you want to go back to school, want to travel and explore, want to go to church. These are things that we used to take for granted, we have the right to do, and we want those rights and freedoms back sooner.”
The premier says two weeks after receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, Manitobans may apply for an immunization card on a new online portal, which also provides more information and answers to common questions.
Noting that COVID-19 case numbers contribute to drop and neighbouring provinces are taking in less ICU patients than they did before, Pallister says the more people follow public health orders, and the sooner Manitobans get vaccinated, the sooner Manitoba will recover from the pandemic and can begin to get back to the activities and in-person connections that people miss.