First Nations pandemic team working to serve up second shipment of Moderna vaccine

·2 min read

The Manitoba First Nations pandemic team is currently working on getting the second shipment of the Moderna vaccine into all 63 Manitoba First Nations communities.

As well, 100,000 doses are scheduled to be put in the arms of people living on reserve in the next 100 days.

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) has received confirmation that 40,500 doses are now available for use to start the rollout for First Nations people ages 18 and up.

“We are pleased to announce that vaccines will roll out this week and will continue over the next couple of weeks,” said Joni Wilson, Director of Pandemic Response for Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin Inc. (KIM) and a member of Manitoba’s Vaccine Implementation Task Force on Wednesday.

“We are also very happy to have over four hundred health professionals who signed up to become vaccinators in our First Nation communities. Those will be coordinated with our vaccine rollout team so our communities can get as many vaccines done as possible.”

MKO plans to have all of its First Nation members vaccinated by the end of June.

To date, about 11,500 people from First Nation, Inuit, and territorial communities have received their vaccines, but only some have received both doses. A total of 69% of the vaccines were administered on-reserve while 1,063 vaccines were administered in the Keewatin Tribal Council region, and 977 were administered in the Swampy Cree Tribal Council area.

Dr. Michael Routledge, Medical Advisory to KIM said that many First Nation communities have low markers of COVID-19 transmission with the current exception of Mathias Colomb Cree Nation.

“There has been optimism in the last couple of months as we see cases start to decrease. At the same time, case numbers have started to plateau in the North in particular. Test positivity rates remain high,” he said.

A 41-person multi-purpose medical assistance team composed of medical staff from two Field Ambulance and general support staff from the Canadian Forces Base Shilo was deployed to assist Indigenous Services Canada in their response to the COVID-19 situation in Mathias Colomb Cree Nation on Mar. 12.

“There has been a lot of help and support there. I am thankful for the Red Cross, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the Canadian Armed Forces who are assisting this community. That help is very important,” said MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee.

Nicole Wong is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Nicole Wong, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun