Urban Indigenous Vaccination Centre begins immunizing Manitoba children

The doctor at the forefront of Manitoba’s First Nations Pandemic Response Team played two important roles on Thursday night: a public health expert promoting the COVID-19 vaccine, and a mom ready to hold the hand of her children as they went to get their first dose.

“I felt a little bit emotional, I got a bit teary,” Dr. Marcia Anderson said after her daughters and nephew received their shot at the vaccine clinic run out of Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre in Winnipeg.

“It’s been a big weight, worrying about our kids when they go to school, hockey games, gatherings or birthday parties,” she said. “Knowing that they’re going to have some immune system protection now is just a huge relief,” she said.

Anderson’s daughters said they think other children should get vaccinated too.

“It’s going to protect you,” said Anderson’s 10-year-old daughter Myla DeCoteau. “I was a little bit nervous but it didn’t hurt that much.”

“I was really scared. I don’t really like needles,” said 7-year-old Makena DeCoteau. “It was a tiny pinch… it’s going to make you safer from getting COVID.”

WATCH | ‘It was a tiny pinch’: Dr. Marcia Anderson’s children get vaccinated:

Urban Indigenous Vaccination Centre begins vaccinating youngsters

10 hours ago

Dr. Marcia Anderson, the public health lead for Manitoba’s First Nations pandemic response team, brought her kids to get some of the first doses administered to children aged 5-11 at the Urban Indigenous Vaccination Centre in Winnipeg Thursday evening. 1:18

Health Canada approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children age five to 11 last week. The province says 25,000 appointments for kids in that age group have been booked in Manitoba as of Thursday afternoon.

Anderson said the vaccine experience at Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre was a great one for her kids.

The organization has been operating as both a COVID-19 testing and vaccination site, offering drop-ins and appointments. The urban Indigenous clinic does not require identification or a health card in order to receive services.

The latest numbers show COVID-19 continues to disproportionately impact First Nations people in Manitoba, something Anderson said illustrates why vaccinating children is so important.

As of Nov. 23, First Nations people represent 40 per cent of the active COVID-19 cases. They also represent nearly one quarter of ICU patients.

Dr. Anderson said she wants children to feel the same relief as teenagers and adults have when they became immunized.

“Vaccines are incredibly safe. We have so much experience with childhood vaccines,” pointing that over 3.6 million kids in the United States have received the shot.  

“I trust the science as a parent. I trust the science as a public health doctor.”

Nine-year-old Elias Anderson gets a vaccine at Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre in Winnipeg on Nov. 25. (Marina von Stackelberg/CBC)

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