All Indigenous adults in Manitoba now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines

All Indigenous adults living in Manitoba will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday morning.

The province said all Indigenous people over the age of 18 can book an appointment for a vaccine on Monday. This includes First Nations, Métis and Inuit people.

This eligibility expansion is for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The eligibility for the AstraZeneca vaccine is staying at 40 years and up, or ages 30 to 39 for people with certain medical conditions.

READ MORE: Manitoba expands eligibility for AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

“We have seen consistently that First Nations people have made up 50 to 60 per cent of all COVID-19 admissions to intensive care units," Dr. Marcia Anderson, public health lead for the First Nations Pandemic Response Coordination Team, said during a vaccine teleconference on Monday.

"We are also seeing consistently higher numbers of off-reserve First Nations people than on-reserve people in hospitalizations and ICUs, and unfortunately more fatal outcomes."

Anderson said as of April 30, there had been 114 deaths in First Nations people living off-reserve, and 55 deaths in First Nations people living on reserve.

She said the youngest First Nation person in hospital is 27 years old.

Anderson said more than 39 per cent of First Nations people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. However, the number of people living off-reserve who have been vaccinated is much smaller compared to those living on reserve, she said.

"This announcement today will help us to close the gaps by making all Indigenous peoples eligible," she said.

In a statement to CTV News the Manitoba Inuit Association said it is very happy that the province has opened the age eligibility.

"Over the past several months, we have been advocating for 18+ age eligibility for Inuit, while working towards our April 26 Inuit Specific Vaccine pop-up at Manitoba Inuit Association's offices," the statement said.

The organization added 126 community members were vaccinated at the pop-up site and another clinic will be coming near the end of May.

Dr. Joss Reimer, the medical lead of Manitoba's Vaccine Immunization Task Force, said she expects the age eligibility for the general population to drop within the week.

Starting at 11:45 a.m. today, Indigenous people in Manitoba can call toll-free at 1-844-626-8222 to book appointments at supersites, pop-up clinics, or urban Indigenous clinics.