WINNIPEG — Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman is looking to the province for answers about the eligibility criteria for the vaccine rollout in Manitoba.
On Friday, Bowman and Jay Shaw, manager of the city’s Emergency Operations Centre, said they are trying to get more details on when essential and frontline city workers might be eligible to receive doses.
“As the eligibility for vaccine criteria is expanded we are looking to ensure our essential service personnel are prioritized so that essential city services are protected for our residents,” said Bowman.
“It is up to the province to determine the order of who gets the vaccine. But I will advocate that our frontline first responders who deal with people who are at risk of having COVID or are COVID-positive – our firefighters and paramedics and firefighter-paramedics and police officers – they are all right now at risk,” said Shaw.
He said it is important first responders do receive the vaccine. He noted it is a difficult job to determine who receives the vaccine.
“There’s a lot of essential workers that they need to think about.”
Bowman said the city is trying to help the province get vaccines into arms as quickly as possible.
“I have been reaching out to the province since early December to get as many details on the province’s vaccine rollout,” said Bowman.
He said it is great news that vaccines are making their way to northern First Nation communities and into personal care homes, but the city also needs details for their frontline workers.
The mayor said he wrote a letter to Premier Brian Pallister on Thursday regarding the topic to see if the city could get a clearer picture on the rollout.
The Amalgamated Transit Union 1505 (ATU) executive vice president James Van Gerwen said they have asked the city to be included in the next round of vaccinations along with emergency personnel.
“Our members deal with thousands of the public on a daily basis,” Van Gerwen said in an email to CTV News. “We are responsible for cleaning the buses and shelters. With the lack of mask enforcement and the significant increase in homeless occupying shelters, the chance of contracting the virus is now more of a risk than ever.”
Van Gerwen said the ATU is “hopeful” that both the province and city will see “the importance of making sure the city is kept moving by protecting their front line workers.”
A spokesperson for the province said the vaccine task force and health officials are the ones who determine vaccine eligibility.
The spokesperson did note that on Dec. 23, 2020, the province provided details on how eligibility criteria would be determined an expanded.
“As more COVID-19 vaccine is delivered to Manitoba in the coming weeks, the province will expand eligibility criteria to help protect more health-care workers and those most at risk of serious illness from the virus,” the province said in the December release.
“Once health officials expand the COVID-19 vaccine criteria to include additional essential workers, those will be notified through the appropriate channels,” the spokesperson said in an email to CTV News.
On Friday afternoon, the province released the latest vaccine update in a news bulletin and it said since the opening of the super site at the RBC Convention Centre, 4,041 doses have been administered.
On Thursday, 868 people received their first dose, while 294 people received their second shot.
Since the vaccine has arrived in Manitoba, 7,484 people have received the first dose.
Of those, 4,738 are in the Winnipeg area, 693 are in the Southern Health Region, 520 are in the Interlake-Eastern Health Region, 267 are in the Prairie Mountain Health Region and 32 are in the Northern Health Region.
The provincial government also noted 8,000 first dose appointments have been booked at the super site since it first opened.
Manitoba has received 22,230 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, including 4,000 doses that arrived this week, since the rollout started.
There are currently 14,700 doses in Manitoba and the province said they will be used for the remainder of appointments this week and then appointments scheduled for next week at the supercentre.
The shipment next week is expected to have 9,360 doses.
The province said in the bulletin that no changes have been made to the eligibility criteria as of Friday.
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