WINNIPEG â€” The Manitoba government has expanded its general COVID-19 vaccination program to include all Indigenous adults.
The age requirement had been a minimum of 30 for First Nations persons.
The change lowers the age and broadens it to include Inuit and MÃ©tis people.
Health officials say the expansion is a response to the effects of colonization on all Indigenous people, which have led to more at-risk health conditions.
Manitoba continues to experience high COVID-19 numbers, with 251 new cases and one death.
Chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin says the numbers are concerning and he’s hoping new restrictions brought in last Wednesday will start to bend the curve.
“We’re seeing a concerning trajectory, going up in essentially every indicator,” Roussin said Monday.
“And then we’re starting to see that strain on the health-care system. We’re starting to see … younger people being admitted to (intensive care units).”
Roussin said the 4,800 new cases recorded last month were more than what was seen in October, when the province was approaching the second wave of the pandemic.
“This is why we put stronger public-health orders in last week and this is why we’re asking Manitobans to stay home.”
The recent restrictions include a ban on most household social gatherings and a cap of 10 on groups in outdoor public areas.
The province has been widening its vaccine program as more international shipments arrive.
Non-Indigenous people 40 and up can receive a dose. Those between 30 and 39 can also get a shot if they have certain underlying health conditions.
As well, health-care workers, front-line firefighters and police officers of any age can get vaccinated.
The province has also gradually expanded a list of hot zones, including all of the north, much of Brandon and a few areas in Winnipeg, where any adult resident can receive a vaccine.
Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the vaccine effort, said a few more hot zones are likely to be announced Tuesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 3, 2021
Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press