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Red River College will offer free training to potential COVID-19 vaccinators

Health-care workers and students with eight hours to spare could get trained to become some of Winnipeg’s first COVID-19 vaccinators starting next week.

Red River College’s latest pandemic micro-credential course will be free for people “with a critical baseline of knowledge and skills” to upgrade or extend their abilities, the province said in a news release on Thursday.

The free, eight-hour course will teach participants about the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, familiarize them with safe vaccine procedures and best vaccination practices, and teach them about immunization and related anatomy, the release said.

It will also include an online learning component and an in-person lab that will let participants practise and demonstrate their competency in the skills needed to safely administer the vaccine.

The course will start on Dec. 15 in Winnipeg and be offered in other communities in the near future, the news release said. To participate, people need to first be hired as immunization team members through Shared Health Manitoba.

An order issued under the Regulated Health Professions Act on Wednesday expanded the list of who is allowed to give the vaccine (under certain conditions) to include professionals like pharmacists, dentists, veterinarians and some health-care students, the release said.

That list includes the following professionals:

  • Midwives.
  • Physiotherapists.
  • Lab technologists.
  • Veterinarian technologists.
  • Respiratory therapists.
  • Occupational therapists.

It also includes students training to become doctors, physician assistants, nurses, paramedics, dentists, medical laboratory technologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, respiratory therapists and pharmacists.

It also includes retired health-care professionals (including those no longer registered with their professional college).

In a background document provided with the news release, the province said there are a number of professionals who could give the vaccine under their existing scope of practice, though they could still choose to take the new course.

Those professionals are:

  • Physicians.
  • Physician assistants.
  • Clinical assistants.
  • Nurse practitioners.
  • Registered nurses.
  • Registered psychiatric nurses.
  • Licensed practical nurses.
  • Paramedics.

Officials in Manitoba said on Wednesday they expect the first rounds of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — approved by Health Canada earlier that day — to arrive in Manitoba as early as next week. The initial 1,950 doses will be enough to give about 900 people the two-dose shot, officials said, and will be reserved at first for health-care workers in critical-care units.

The province also announced on Wednesday that people hired to give the COVID-19 shot will get appropriate personal protective equipment to do the job, and that once more vaccines become available, immunizers will be prioritized to get it themselves.

The province is also hiring people for other positions in its upcoming vaccine campaign, including clinic managers, immunization clinical leaders, clinic navigators and post-immunization observation team members, the news release said.

More information about the course, including eligibility requirements, is available on the college’s website

In recent months, Red River College has offered up several other micro-credential courses to supplement the province’s front-line workforce during the pandemic, including one that trained people to take swabs for COVID-19 tests and another that equipped students to help out in care homes.

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