All adults living in northern Manitoba, Seven Oaks west health area eligible for vaccines now
Expansion includes anyone working in the north, as well as some people working in northwest Winnipeg
Everyone living and working in the Northern Health Region, as well as people who live and some people who work in the Seven Oaks west health area in Winnipeg, are eligible to book an appointment for a coronavirus vaccine.
There are no limitations around job type for people working in the north — anyone who regularly works in the region, in any role, is eligible, the provincial government said in a news release.
"This recognizes the increased risk faced by many people in the north, which is caused by systemic barriers and made an even greater challenge by geography, and the distance to access medical care," Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead on the province's vaccine implementation task force, said in a technical briefing with reporters Monday morning.
The broader inclusion in the north also reflects the fact that in many communities, the majority of people 18 and older are already eligible because of where they work, Reimer said.
The same employment criteria announced last week, when the province expanded vaccine eligibility to the areas of Inkster west, Point Douglas south and downtown east in Winnipeg, will apply in the Seven Oaks west area. In those areas, eligibility includes anyone 18 and older working:
- In kindergarten to Grade 12 schools.
- As a child-care provider.
- In a food-processing facility.
- In a grocery or convenience store.
- At a gas station.
- As a public health inspector or workplace safety and health officer.
- Anywhere that serves food (e.g. restaurants or food banks).
A map of Seven Oaks west, which is not the same as the Seven Oaks neighbourhood, can be found on the provincial government's website.
The area includes the north Inkster industrial area and The Maples, Amber Trails, Mandalay West and Old Kildonan-Rosser neighbourhoods.
People who are eligible can book an appointment at one of the province's supersites or pop-up clinics.
The additon of the two areas means that approximately 30,000 more people are now eligible for a vaccine.
Rising 3rd wave
The announcement of the expansion of vaccine eligibilty comes the same day the province announced stricter health orders, including a ban on household gatherings, will take effect on Wednesday.
Both the ramping up of the vaccine rollout and the reimposition of health restrictions are part of the province's efforts to dampen swiftly rising rates of transmission, with more contagious variants of concern now making up the majority of new cases.
On Monday, the test-positivity rate reached 7.6 per cent in Manitoba and 8.2 per cent in Winnipeg.
The number of people in hospital continued to rise, while the average age of people in hospital has fallen. The average age of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units is now 56, which is significantly lower than in the second wave, said Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer.
Manitoba has started targeting its vaccine eligibility expansion to areas of the province that have had high levels of virus transmission and higher rates of severe outcomes, such as hospitalizations and deaths, since Oct. 1, at the start of the province's second wave of the pandemic.
To decide which areas to target, the province uses a scale based primarily on rates of transmission, but that also takes into account racialized communities, income levels and the quality of housing.
"All of those together help us identify Seven Oaks west as a high-risk community that we wanted to immunize as quickly as we could," Reimer said.
Throughout the second and third waves of the pandemic, the Northern Health Region has seen higher per-capita rates of transmission than other areas of the province, as well as higher rates of severe outcomes related to infections, Reimer said.
The region has had the highest per-capita rates of transmission in the province, and daily case counts have often rivalled those of Winnipeg, even though the north has a fraction of the city's population.