First Winnipeg care home residents receive COVID-19 vaccine

A 94-year-old woman at Oakview Place is the first long-term care resident in Winnipeg to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Care home residents make up around half of more than 730 COVID-19 deaths in Manitoba

Margaret Watson, 94, a resident at Oakview Place, smiles after getting her COVID-19 vaccine at the Winnipeg long-term care home on Monday. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

A woman at Oakview Place is the first long-term care resident in Winnipeg to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Margaret Watson, 94, said she was surprised when she learned that she would be the first person in the city who doesn't work in a health-care setting to get immunized against the virus. 

"I couldn't believe it because I hadn't even registered. I thought I'd wait until the health-care [workers are immunized]," she said.

Watson's looking forward to "getting out" and seeing her family members again as soon as that's allowed.

WATCH | Margaret Watson gets her COVID-19 vaccine at Oakview Place:

Margaret Watson, 94, becomes first Manitoba care home resident to get COVID-19 vaccine

CBC News Manitoba

5 months ago
Margaret Watson, 94, was among several residents at Oakview Place to get the vaccine on Monday. She was the first long-term care facility resident to get the vaccine in Manitoba. 0:56

"We've been in lock up for so long. My phone wasn't working, and TV, I had trouble with the TV. It's been awful. I can't get in touch with my kids 'cause my phone's not connected. I'll be glad when it's over."

Pandemic restrictions remain in place at care homes despite the vaccination rollout.

To date, Oakview Place has seen 84 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among staff and residents, and 13 people have died due to the disease.

Close to half of the more than 730 deaths related to COVID-19 in Manitoba have been connected to outbreaks in personal care homes. 

Last week, the provincial government announced all residents of Manitoba's 135 care homes will be offered their first doses of a vaccine within the next 28 days, starting with around 1,157 people who will be vaccinated at seven care homes across the province's five health regions. A second dose is to be administered three or four weeks after the first.

The Charleswood Care Centre, Tuxedo Villa and Oakview Place in Winnipeg, Boyne Lodge in Carman, Hillcrest Place in Brandon, St. Paul's Residence in The Pas, and Tudor House in Selkirk are the first care homes where residents are being vaccinated.

The province says it will release a timeline next week of when residents in other care homes will get vaccinated. Over time, it will ramp up weekly immunizations.

Manitoba has received 7,300 doses of the Moderna vaccine, 2,000 of which are set to go to personal care homes, with the rest headed to First Nations communities.

First Nations vaccinations

The first doses of the Moderna vaccine began arriving in First Nations communities last week, and the first shipments went to communities with personal care homes.

Four communities — Pimicikamak (Cross Lake), Norway House, Fisher River Cree Nation and Peguis First Nation — were set to receive shipments Thursday evening.

The First Nations Pandemic Coordination Response Team was making plans to get the vaccine to five other communities — Nisichawayasihk, Sagkeeng, Opaskwayak, Sioux Valley and Bunibonibee.

Priority is being given to people over 60 years old in remote communities, and over 70 years old in non-remote communities.

In Norway House Cree Nation, 240 doses arrived by plane on Thursday. The doses are reserved for residents of the Pinaow Wachi Personal Care Home elders and staff, as well as those who are 70 years and older. 

The married couple Leslie and Veronica Apetagon were the first people in the community to receive the vaccine, the First Nation announced on Monday.

Chief Larson Anderson compared the challenge of keeping COVID-19 out of the community to trying to keep a leaky boat afloat.

"Shortage of housing, limited health care services, and underlying health issues are all part of the fight," he said in the news release. "We fought really hard to keep the virus out while trying to maintain a sense of balance mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually."

The community has had 48 cases, but there are currently no cases on the reserve and five cases in Winnipeg. 

Return to normalcy by fall: Roussin

Manitoba's Chief Provincial Public Health Officer said he hopes to see public health restrictions loosen and life begin returning to normal by the fall.

"Seeing that vaccine roll out into the personal care homes, some of the most vulnerable Manitobans starting to receive that vaccine, is I think showing us some of that hope that we can all look to," he said at a news conference Monday.

Opposition NDP Leader Wab Kinew said Manitoba is lagging behind other provinces in terms of its rollout of the vaccine. As of Monday, Manitoba had administered 10,353 of the 29,530 doses it has received so far.

"I just want to continue to reiterate our support for Manitobans to get a vaccine, but also to call on the government to renew their efforts on the vaccination program," Kinew said.

In order to get back to normal as quickly as possible, Roussin urged everyone to get the vaccine as soon as they are eligible.

"That's when we're going to get that herd immunity effect and hopefully in the fall of this year we're going to be able to see life at least more back to normal than it certainly is right now."

A second vaccination supersite is set to open at the Keystone Centre in Brandon next week. 

Vaccination teams visit 7 different personal care homes in Manitoba

CBC News Manitoba

5 months ago
Margaret Watson got her first dose of the COVID 19 vaccine Monday morning. She's also the first member of the public in Winnipeg to get it. 2:14


Cameron MacLean

Online Reporter

Cameron MacLean is a journalist living in Winnipeg, where he was born and raised. He has more than a decade of experience covering news in the city and across the province, working in print, radio, television and online.