Bowman among those calling for changes to Manitoba vaccine prioritization

Calls to change the priority system for vaccines are growing louder across Manitoba.

The current system prioritizes older Manitobans, but Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman is among those asking the province to consider a strategy that goes beyond age.

“Ideally what I’d like to see is our provincial government set a target of having our population have the highest per capita vaccination rates in the country. Let’s all go for the best outcome for the safety of our community and then support those efforts,” the mayor told Global News.

Read more: Most Canadians say type of COVID-19 vaccine instrumental in whether or not they get it: poll

“(We need to consider) how our essential workers could be appropriately prioritized based on their increased exposure to risk. We see police, for example, either getting their vaccines or getting scheduled to get their vaccines in provinces like New Brunswick, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C.

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“Our police, as well as other essential workers like transit — and in the broader community, teachers and others — we see many of these groups being prioritized based on that risk exposure, not just from an age perspective.”

Bowman said he’s hoping the provincial government appropriately adjusts its vaccine rollout plans, especially with new variants.

“It has changed the game, so we’re arguing that they should change their vaccine strategy as well.”

The province told Global News that police still fall under the same regulations as the general population when it comes to receiving vaccines.

James Bedford, president of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society (MTS), told 680 CJOB he believes teachers should be bumped up in the vaccine lineup.

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“Teachers — all school staff — have been working very, very hard to keep public schools open this year,” said Bedford.

“We care deeply about our students, we know the best education occurs in schools, and we really don’t want to be in a situation where schools have to be closed.”

Bedford’s comments come after chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said the most quickly growing cohorts of COVID-19 cases are in the 10- to 19-year-old age group.

Other provinces, Bedford said, are already moving to vaccinate their teachers.

“In many of those jurisdictions, vaccinations are already underway.”

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