The president of the Winnipeg Police Association says a new move by the province to bump front-line workers to the head of the vaccine queue is a sigh of relief to his members.
Police, firefighters and all adults in high-risk communities will soon be able to move to the front of the line, the province announced Thursday night.
Police association boss Moe Sabourin told Global News he welcomes the move, as no matter how bad the pandemic gets, his members will never have the opportunity to work from home.
“There are many situations where they don’t have the opportunity to wash their hands or don PPE (personal protective equipment) when they become involved in dynamic situations — or providing emergency first aid to people who have been in a violent encounter or a motor vehicle accident,” he said.
Sabourin said he believes the move by the province could improve the level of service from police — helping solve a staffing crisis when officers get sick or are forced to self-isolate.
“It’s not only heavily seeing shifts decimated with people having to self-isolate, but we’ve also had close to 50 confirmed cases as a result of contact in the workplace.”
Details will be released next week, according to the province, but the plan is to increase the eligibility to include first responders.
In communities where the risk is greatest, the goal is to make all adults eligible, with an emphasis on people in public-facing jobs such as teachers.
“This is a targeted approach to ensure those most affected by COVID-19, who are often racialized or marginalized people, have access to the vaccine sooner,” said Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of Manitoba’s Vaccine Implementation Task Force.
Vaccine supply, however, is still limited, and the province said not everyone in these categories will be able to get the shot immediately.
Currently, vaccines are available to the general public starting at age 39 for First Nations people and 59 for others.
With files from Kevin Hirschfield
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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