Manitobans will soon be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in the great outdoors.
Officials from the province’s vaccine task force say pop-up vaccine clinics will start offering shots at select provincial park campgrounds in the coming weeks.
“Teams will be set up at the concession stands or at a beach to answer questions, provide consent forms of course, and to give the immunizations,” explained task force’s operations, planning and logistics lead, Johanu Botha.
“We’re very excited about this initiative, especially as we’re aiming for one great summer.”
Botha said both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine will be available at the first pop-up clinics set to open this weekend.
He said clinics will be open at Childs Lake in Duck Mountain Provincial Park and Asessippi Provincial Park staring Friday. Teams will also be at Spruce Woods Provincial Park Saturday morning and more pop-ups are in the works for the week of July 25, Botha said.
“These are the kind of outreach efforts — meeting people where they’re at — that make it easier for people to get immunized,” Botha said.
“The only way we can get needles into arms is when the arms arrive for immunization.”
Manitoba’s vaccination rollout has been making steady progress in recent weeks.
The province is holding its first ever first-ever walk-in vax-a-thon Wednesday with hopes to get 20,000 shots into the arms of Manitobans.
The move sees all supersites in Manitoba offering shots without an appointment, and 8,000 Pfizer shots are being specifically earmarked for youth aged 12 to 17.
Botha said Tuesday the vax-a-thon is coming at a critical time in the province’s vaccine rollout and reopening plan — they have been planning this for a while and were just waiting for the moment where supply outweighed demand.
As of Wednesday 76.7 per cent of eligible Manitobans have received one shot of vaccine and 58.5 per cent have received two doses, according to a provincial website tracking vaccinations.
The province has tied its reopening plans to vaccination rates.
Later in the day Premier Brian Pallister and chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin are expected to announce a further loosening of restrictions after a second milestone in the plan — 75 per cent of eligible Manitobans having their first dose and 50 per cent having their second — was hit ahead of target.
“Our government has spared no effort to bolster vaccine availability and accessibility, and to give Manitobans the information and support they need to roll up their sleeve — not once, but twice — and get fully vaccinated,” Pallister said in a release Tuesday.
“We are close to achieving all of our vaccination milestones earlier than we could have imagined. Now we just need that extra effort by every Manitoban not yet vaccinated to roll up your sleeve and push us across the finish line so we can safely, fully reopen.”
First- and second-dose vaccine appointments can be made by calling 1-844-626-8222 (1-844-MAN-VACC) or visiting the province’s website.
–With files from Amy-Ellen Prentice
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
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