WINNIPEG - The government of Manitoba says it’s partnering with five community organizations to set up new Indigenous-led COVID-19 immunization clinics in multiple urban communities.
The province says, starting next week, the vaccines will be administered at the Brandon Friendship Centre, the Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre on Higgins Ave in Winnipeg, and the McGregor St. Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre location in Winnipeg.
Other clinics will open the following week: The Portage la Prairie Community Revitalization Corporation will operate a clinic at the Prairie Fusion Arts and Entertainment Centre, and another will run out of the Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre in Thompson.
The sites will provide culturally-safe supports, outreach coordinators to ensure the homeless population and others are aware of them, and child minding or children’s activity kits to support parents, the province says.
Health and Seniors Care Minister Heather Stefanson says the new sites will help ensure access to immunization for people who face barriers, citing a disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous people. The province says 50 to 60 per cent of people admitted to ICU as a result of the virus have been from First Nations.
The provincial government explains the work to establish the clinics was led by a committee that includes leaders from Indigenous governance organizations, and follows extensive consultations with Indigenous governments, First Nation medical leadership, community organizations, and individuals with lived experience of homelessness according to the province.
The province also plans to deploy Focused Immunization Teams to shelters across the province to offer immunizations to those experiencing homelessness in the coming weeks.
Those who are eligible people can make appointments by calling 1-844-MAN-VACC (1-844-626-8222), with community partners available to provide support, although the province says they expect 20 per cent of vaccinations at the sites will be walk-ins.