Some Manitoba paramedics now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine
Those who work in emergency response services and born on or before Dec. 31, 1975, now qualify
The Manitoba government has expanded the COVID-19 immunization eligibility criteria to include professionals who work in emergency response services, born on or before Dec. 31, 1975.
In a news release published Saturday, the province said this includes paramedics, emergency medical responders, nurses and respiratory therapists who perform emergency response services and those who work in patient transportation by land and air.
The criteria has also been expanded to include health-care workers assigned to a COVID-19 immunization clinic or designated COVID-19 testing site, with no age restrictions.
The announcement was made a day after Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman said he was asking the province for clarity on when paramedics and other front-line essential workers would be eligible to book appointments for their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Added stress and pressure
The Paramedic Association of Manitoba says a majority of paramedics in the province are under the age of 45, so while Saturday's announcement is a start, it hopes to see the province change the criteria in the future.
The association says all paramedics should be vaccinated, not just those born on or before Dec. 31, 1975.
Rebecca Clifton, the association's administrative director, said paramedics' work puts them in direct risk of contracting COVID-19, which has increased the stress and pressure on members.
"I go home and I'm tired and I have to be questioning, am I just tired or maybe I'm getting sick?" said Clifton. "Maybe it was just a rough tour and I'm just not feeling the greatest, or maybe it is COVID."
Clifton said some paramedics have decided to isolate in their own homes and live solely out of a basement because they don't want to risk spreading the virus to their families.
She said in order for paramedics to continue helping Manitobans, all of them must be among the first people to get vaccinated.
"We are not just first responders. We are part of health care and we are health-care providers," she said.
"We want them to be on the eligibility list without a specific date of birth or anything like this. I do believe that it needs to be looked at."
More immunizations start next week
The province said on Saturday that in total, it has received 22,230 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to date, which includes approximately 7,020 doses delivered earlier this week.
It says there are about 13,440 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the province to be used for the remainder of this week's immunizations as well as next week's.
Manitoba has received 7,300 doses of the Moderna vaccine and 5,300 have been allocated for First Nations.
The remaining Moderna doses will go to people in personal care homes starting Monday, according to the province.