Northern Manitoba First Nation communities begin mass vaccination effort

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Pimicikamak, also known as Cross Lake, and Peguis First Nation has already begun their mass COVID-19 vaccination effort since Monday.

Approximately 600 vaccines were administered to citizens in Pimicikamak Cree Nation, and about 400 doses were given to residents in Peguis First Nation.

“We have more shipments being sent out this week, next week and the week after that to all the different communities in the North and South,” said Joni Wilson, Director of Pandemic Response for Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin Inc. (KIM) during a virtual conference.

According to data collected by KIM, uptake for the vaccination has been going well. More than 13,000 First Nations in Manitoba have received their vaccination. Of those, 4435 received both the first and second doses.

This week, Pimicikamak Cree Nation converted a hockey rink into a mass vaccination clinic that can handle up to one thousand people a day.

About 8,000 people currently live in the adjoining communities of Pimicikamak and Cross Lake. Unfortunately, five people have died in these communities due to COVID-19.

As for Peguis First Nation, the Peguis Multiplex was transformed into a vaccination clinic. The First Nation has over 11,000 members and aims to vaccinate half of the in-community population until Wednesday.

They expect to receive more than 1,900 doses of the Moderna vaccine in the upcoming days. As of Monday, Peguis First Nation only has one positive COVID-19 case.

“We are very proud of our communities for all the work they have put into getting the clinics ready,” said Wilson.

Manitoba First Nation leaders plan to immunize 100,000 people in 100 days. As of Monday, there have been 812 active cases in First Nation communities, with 23 in current hospitalizations and seven in intensive care units.

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