Indigenous people in Manitoba encouraged to get COVID booster shot

Some Indigenous leaders in Manitoba got their COVID-19 booster shots on Monday and are encouraging their community members to do the same.

Dr. Marcia Anderson, the medical lead of the province's First Nations Pandemic Response Team, administered shots for Grand Chief Arlen Dumas and her own father.

She said while booster shots are available to all Manitobans over 18 years of age six months after their second dose, health officials said they haven't seen as many First Nations people showing up as they would like.

"We all know breakthrough infections are happening and although (they) tend to be less severe, not seeing high hospitalizations for example, they do still really impact transmission in the communities, outbreaks, transmission to other family members," said Anderson.

"As we're heading into the holiday season, where there will be more gatherings, we want everyone to come in and get their booster as soon as they're eligible."

Anderson said she isn't sure the exact reason why the booster uptake isn't as high right now but suggests people might not be prioritizing the booster shot or they may not even be aware that they are eligible to get the third shot.

Dumas said it is important for him to get the booster shot, especially with other variants becoming more known.

"Anything we can do to make ourselves safer and create more of a buffer for communities, the better it is for anyone," said Dumas.

He said he trusts the science and credibility of the medical experts in the province.

"The medicine is working. It has protected our Elders, it's protected everybody."

Dumas said he believes everyone has a responsibility to continue to protect one another with the booster shot.

Anderson said people should check when they got their second dose and if it has been six months they should book for their booster shot.