Thompson teachers, first responders get COVID-19 vaccine thanks to Manitoba First Nation

A growing number of teachers and first responders in Thompson have now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine thanks to their neighbours in Pimicikamak First Nation.

Officials from Pimicikamak, also known as Cross Lake First Nation, held a four-day vaccination clinic in Thompson starting last week in an effort to make sure members living in the northern Manitoba city were able to get access to a shot.

Read more: Manitobans 40 and over can now access AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

But when they ended up with more than enough vaccine by the last day Saturday, they decided to offer shots to teachers and first responders as well.

Pimicikamak Chief David Monias says because the vaccine is only currently available for those over 18, the move was meant to help protect children.

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“We couldn’t forget about the children. The children are the most vulnerable,” he told CJOB 680 Monday.

“They’re not vaccinated, they’re not protected … (so) you have to make sure that you vaccinate the people that they come into contact with.”

Read more: Gimli schools closed Monday due to COVID-19 cases

Cathy Pellizzaro, a teacher and president of the Thompson Teachers’ Association, took to Twitter to thank the First Nation for the gesture, which saw a reported 80 per cent of local teachers vaccinated with their first dose.

“A huge heartfelt thank you to Cross Lake Chief David Monias and Council for offering and giving vaccinations to teachers in Thompson,” she said.

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Monias said 850 people were vaccinated in all during the vaccination efforts in Thompson.

He said roughly 65 per cent of Pimicikamak’s adult population has now been vaccinated, about 10 percentage points below the community’s goal to reach herd immunity.

Read more: Military arrives in Pimicikamak First Nation to help with COVID-19 outbreak

The community is now waiting for more doses of the Modera vaccine to start doling out second doses and to make sure anyone who may have been missed during the first round of inoculations can get their first dose.

“Being able to be vaccinated gives a sense of relief,” he said. “The goal is always to promote health and well-being.”

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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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