Manitoba truckers breathe sigh of relief thanks to cross-border vaccination plan

An agreement signed between Manitoba and North Dakota to give truckers who do business in the U.S. a COVID-19 vaccine shot has generated a lot of reaction since its announcement Tuesday.

The deal, touted as the first such cross-border vaccine agreement between a province and a state, could eventually expand to include other essential workers such as healthcare providers.

Manitoba trucker Chris Aubrey told 680 CJOB he got his shot Wednesday at a check-point just off I-29, and says he’s looking forward to getting the second shot down the road.

Aubrey is one of 4,000 Manitoba truckers expected to take advantage of the program.

“I wasn’t sure when I was going to get this thing. It was starting to feel like I never would, and bam, out of the blue here it comes at a rest area I’m at all the time,” Aubrey said.

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“It’s total relief. To know that I’m going to get the second dose before six weeks is up is just awesome.”

“My wife is jealous. She says I’m going to be dosed twice before she gets dosed twice, you know?”

Aubrey said the process of getting vaccinated was a breeze. All he had to do was pull up to the rest area, show his licence and Manitoba health card at a North Dakota Health trailer, and sign a consent form.

Read more: Manitoba and North Dakota look to vaccinate cross-border essential workers

Abbi Berg of North Dakota’s Department of Health told Global News her state is happy to help out the truckers heading south.

“North Dakota is in a unique situation where we now have enough vaccine to meet the needs of our residents, so we wanted to help our neighbours to the north,” Berg said.

“We know that COVID does not discriminate among Canadians, Americans, people crossing the border. So we just had a conversation. We needed to get White House approval and then we hit the ground running. It went together very quickly.”

Berg said over the first two days of the project, more than 170 Canadians have been vaccinated, and the response has been all positive.

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“They’re really excited. They said it’s a sense of relief and that it can be difficult to find a vaccine appointment in Canada — especially given their varying schedules and long hours,” she said.

“It’s been a really fun event to be a part of, because everyone is positive and happy to be there.”

Berg said there’s currently one site, in the rest area Aubrey visited, but depending on the program’s success, there’s potential to expand that site or find additional locations.

— with files from the Canadian Press

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