WINNIPEG - The government of Manitoba says it is kicking off a $1 million grant program that would provide as much as $20,000 to groups providing outreach to those who are hesitating to be inoculated against COVID-19.
The province explains the funding is being set aside for arts, business, community, cultural, education, faith-based, and even sports organizations that can demonstrate that they’ll be able to connect with people who are vaccine hesitant. Premier Brian Pallister says Manitoba’s biggest limiting factor used to be vaccine supply, but with the province administering COVID-19 vaccines to nearly 70 per cent of the population, the challenge now is to reach the remaining 30 per cent. As of Thursday, over 66 per cent of Manitobans have been vaccinated, with more than 874,500 doses administered.
Pallister says the grants are just one of several strategies being developed to address COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the province. Health professionals say they’ll also be deploying outreach vans, making house calls, and opening up community clinics to get the vaccines out to people and places where uptake rates have tended to be low.
With the help of community leaders who talk of one day returning to seats in restaurants, festivals, and cinemas, the province is also running an awareness campaign emphasizing the activities Manitobans will be able to do once immunization reaches adequate levels. The campaign includes banners hung during televised Jets games at Bell MTS Place that say, "Miss these seats? Get vaccinated."
Mobile clinics have begun with a focus on outreach to those experiencing homelessness in Winnipeg’s inner city, while clinics to help those who may have missed getting out to supersites because of language barriers are also in the works.