25 Manitoba community groups getting $390K to encourage vaccine uptake
Projects to encourage vaccination include Steinbach community barbecue, Hindu Society pop-up clinic
The Manitoba government is giving $390,000 to 25 community organizations and other partners as part of its efforts to encourage COVID-19 immunization among groups that have low uptake.
Earlier this month, the province announced it was putting up $1 million for grants of up to $20,000 for community group projects aimed at reaching people hesitant about getting the vaccine.
The 25 projects announced Tuesday are the first selected through the ProtectMB Community Outreach and Incentive Grant.
"We know from research and from clinical leadership that there are thousands of Manitobans who are open to getting a vaccine, that would be ready to get a vaccine. I'm just not the guy to persuade them," Premier Brian Pallister said at a news conference at St. Amant's Spirit Cottage on River Road in Winnipeg.
There are many reasons why people may be reluctant to get a vaccine, including accessibility issues, physical location, language barriers, or cultural and religious beliefs and practices, Pallister said.
The province hopes that engaging neighbours, religious leaders and community organizations will help break down those barriers.
"Reaching out and helping people who you know and trust — and who know and trust you — to make a decision to get vaccinated is an important part of what we've initiated here together," Pallister said.
WATCH | Community groups getting $390K to encourage vaccine uptake:
Projects receiving funding include a community barbecue hosted by Steinbach Community Outreach — a group that works with local residents who do not have phone or internet access. Medical professionals will be on hand at the community barbecue to provide information and answer questions about COVID-19 vaccination.
The West Central Women's Resource Centre is one of the organizations receiving funding. The centre held a pop-up clinic last week where they provided access to translators for various languages. An Indigenous elder was also present for people who needed additional support.
On that day, they saw 195 people get a COVID-19 shot, 72 of which were first doses, according to the centre's executive director Lorie English.
The centre has been focused on creating a space where people feel comfortable to access the vaccine and know their needs will be met, English said.
"We were inviting people into a space where they already knew us, they trust our staff, and they believe that we want what's best for them," she said.
She said the new funding will help them ramp up their efforts. The centre is holding another pop-up clinic on July 8, starting at around 9:15 a.m. and running until they are out of doses.
The Women of Colour Community Leadership Initiative is another organization selected for the grant,
President Jennifer Chen says the money will help fund pop-up clinics in the south end of the city, where some people find it too challenging to travel to supersite locations in Winnipeg.
The organization already held one pop up clinic on June 24, where they ran out of the 300 doses they were given.
Chen said they want to make getting the vaccine a more convenient, positive experience for people.
"We're hoping to have pop-up clinics that include diverse populations and make pop-up clinics a fun experience for people in the south end."
Another project will be an appointment-only pop-up vaccination clinic hosted by the Hindu Society of Manitoba at the Hindu Temple and Dr. Raj Pandey Hindu Centre in Winnipeg on July 9.
"Pop-up clinics such as this are even more important for communities like ours where many are newcomers, or English may not be their first language," said Kirit Thakrar, president of the society.
The projects will support the province's Community Partners for Vaccine Administration, which is supplying 20,000 vaccine doses to be distributed at the community level.
More than 50 community and religious organizations, businesses, and community clinics have partnered with the province to administer vaccines. Those partners include the North End Women's Centre, New Flyer Industries, Amber Trails Community School and the Sexuality and Education Resource Centre.
The province has also created a system that allows community partners and congregate living facilities that are capable of administering vaccines to order their own supplies.
St. Amant —which provides services for people with developmental disabilities — delivered about 500 doses at the province's first drive-thru vaccine clinic last week to people with disabilities, as well as their support staff and families.
The outdoor space at the Spirit Cottage allowed the clinic to have therapy dogs, bubbles, music and snacks for everyone who received a vaccine, said president John Leggat.
"Our vaccinators were able to give vaccines to people who had previously been unsuccessful in other environments," he said.
As of Tuesday, 73.2 per cent of Manitobans age 12 and up had a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 39.8 per cent had two doses, according to the province's data.
In order for Manitoba to reach its goal of 80 per cent vaccinated with at least one dose by Labour Day, the province needs to administer another 51,000 first doses, Pallister said.