COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ and Resources

First vaccination at Peguis First Nation.
Chief Jerry Daniels vaccination
SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels receiving his first dose of the vaccine in Long Plain First Nation, March 25, 2021

As our Chiefs, health leaders, and community members work diligently to protect our people, we ask everyone to take precautions whenever possible to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

The entire province of Manitoba is at the RESTRICTED level (orange) on the Pandemic Response System. Changes to the public health order restrictions took effect on October 5, 2021. To view a full list of the current restrictions click here.

If you are looking for information on where to get the COVID-19 vaccine or information on eligibility, please see below.

The COVID-19 vaccine is now available on and off reserve for community members aged 12 and older. We encourage everyone to get vaccinated to protect yourself and others against this deadly virus, which is having a disproportionate impact on our communities and citizens. Statistics show the COVID-19 virus is hurting First Nation people more than any other population in Canada. We need to do everything we can to stop this virus and to keep ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities safe!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why should I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Vaccines make your immune system stronger. They build antibodies to help prevent diseases. Immunization is much safer than getting the potentially deadly COVID-19 virus.

Vaccines also provide protection for certain people who cannot get the vaccine, such as immunocompromised people and people with certain allergies. If the majority of people are vaccinated, that helps prevent the spread of the virus, which protects the health of the whole community.

Why are First Nation people a priority?

First Nation people are a priority for a number of reasons, including:

  • First Nation people are particularly vulnerable to this deadly virus, largely due to colonial legacies which have led to lower health outcomes overall.
  • First Nations are over-represented in hospitalizations and ICU admissions due to COVID-19.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

Yes!

All vaccines are peer-reviewed and analyzed for their safety and effectiveness before they are granted approval by Health Canada. They have to go through a strict vetting process and must be shown to be safe and effective before they can be used. After approval, they continue to be monitored closely for their safety and effectiveness.

Four vaccines have been approved by Health Canada so far for use, Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Janssen. Millions of people worldwide have already been vaccinated with more people receiving the COVID-19 vaccine every day!

First Nation Health experts have advised us that this is the best tool we have to protect First Nation people from the coronavirus.

I am hesitant to get a COVID-19 vaccine, what should I do?

Some people are hesitant to get vaccinated against COVID-19 for a variety of reasons, including concerns and feelings of mistrust towards the Canadian medical establishment, inaccurate information shared about vaccines online and on social media, and the fact that the COVID-19 vaccines have been produced relatively quickly.

First Nation health experts encourage everyone to be vaccinated as our best defense against this deadly virus, which has had a disproportionate affect on First Nation people, communities, and livelihoods.

If you’re still hesitant after reading this FAQs guide then we highly recommend for you to contact your local health station or clinic where you can get trustworthy information on the vaccine, its distribution, and any other questions you may have.

Take a look at some COVID-19 Myths & Facts here!

What is the difference between the vaccines?

All of the vaccines offer excellent protection against the COVID-19 virus. As an example, early results from clinical trials show the Moderna vaccine to be 94% effective at preventing COVID-19 infections that produce symptoms. You are still able to get the virus and spread it after being vaccinated, however, you are far less likely to experience serious outcomes from the virus.

The Moderna vaccine, which is given in two doses several weeks a part, gives the immune system a preview of what the real virus looks like without causing the disease. This preview gives the immune system time to design powerful antibodies that can neutralize the virus and protect us from infection.

Why are First Nations receiving the Moderna vaccine, not a difference vaccine?

All vaccines are shown to be highly effective, but the Moderna vaccine is easier to transport and was therefore selected for shipment to First Nations. Other vaccines, such as Pfizer, are more difficult to transport.

First Nation people who are eligible can also be vaccinated at one of the province’s supersites, located in Winnipeg, Brandon, Dauphin, Morden, Steinbach, Selkirk, and Thompson, or an Indigenous vaccine clinic, or various pop-up clinics.

Vaccine clinics for Indigenous people living in urban centres:

  • Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre – Win Gardner Place, 363 MacGregor Ave., Winnipeg. Call 204-599-6551 for Ma Mawi Vaccine Call Centre 
  • Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre, 180 Higgins Ave., Winnipeg
  • Brandon Friendship Centre, 205 College Ave., Brandon
  • Prairie Fusion Arts and Entertainment Centre, 11 Second St. NE, Portage la Prairie
  • Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre in Thompson , 4 Nelson Rd., Thompson

You can book an appointment online or by calling 1-844-626-8222. We encourage everyone who is eligible to receive a vaccine, any vaccine, to be vaccinated!

When can I get vaccinated?

All people in Manitoba aged 12 and older are eligible for vaccination.

First Nation health professionals advise that youth ages 5 to 11 will be able to be vaccinated shortly.

I live on-reserve, where can I get vaccinated?

You can receive your vaccination on reserve by visiting your health centre or health care provider. Call your health centre to make an appointment.

I live off-reserve, where can I get vaccinated?

First Nation people living off reserve can access provincial vaccination supersites, Indigenous clinics and pop-up clinics as long as you are aged 12 or older. You must book an appointment first by calling 1-844-626-8222 or you can book online. You will be asked to self-identify as First Nations as part of the appointment-booking process. The call centre is open seven days a week from 6:00 AM – 8:00 PM. Please note that family members and caregivers can make an appointment on a loved one’s behalf.

Vaccine clinics for Indigenous people living in urban centres:

  • Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre – Win Gardner Place, 363 MacGregor Ave., Winnipeg. Call 204-599-6551 for Ma Mawi Vaccine Call Centre 
  • Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre, 180 Higgins Ave., Winnipeg
  • Brandon Friendship Centre, 205 College Ave., Brandon
  • Prairie Fusion Arts and Entertainment Centre, 11 Second St. NE, Portage la Prairie
  • Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre in Thompson , 4 Nelson Rd., Thompson

These clinics were created to be a culturally safe space for all Indigenous peoples.

Who should NOT get the COVID-19 vaccine?

For the vast majority of people, the COVID-19 vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect themselves and others against the virus.

However, there is a very small number of people who can’t or shouldn’t be immunized. If you feel that you may qualify for a medical exemption based on the criteria listed below, the first step is to schedule an appointment with your own health care provider and/or your specialist. 

They will review the exemption criteria with you to determine if you may qualify. Only a specialist physician can request a medical exemption from the province, based on your medical history. Individuals cannot submit their own requests for exemption. Once it is submitted, information about the exemption will be entered into the provincial immunization database, including whether the exemption is permanent or temporary.   

Criteria:

Manitoba is developing a medical exemption process for people in one of three situations, who: 

  • had a severe reaction after the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine (e.g. myocarditis, Guillain-Barré syndrome);
  • are receiving treatment that affects their ability to mount an immune response, meaning vaccination must be timed carefully with their treatment schedule (e.g. receiving immunocompromising treatment after a transplant, certain types of cancer treatments); or
  • had a severe allergy or anaphylactic reaction to a previous dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or its components that cannot be managed by the Health Sciences Centre Allergy Clinic.

More detailed information about these medical situations.

How do I get my Immunization Card?

  • You need to have received two doses of a vaccine, and wait 14 days after getting your second dose, so it can take full effect.
  • You have to have a Manitoba Health Card to be eligible for an Immunization Card.
  • 14 days after your second dose, go here to register to create your account and enter your information – name, birthdate, health card registration number (6-digit) and Personal Health Information Number (9-digit) from your Manitoba Health Card.

People who are exempt from the vaccine will be able to request their digital or physical Manitoba immunization card approximately seven to 14 business days after their exemption is submitted. The card and the display shown after scanning the QR code will be identical to those currently used by fully immunized people. This will help protect the private health information of exempt individuals, while also keeping a simple, consistent process for venues and events that must validate immunization status. 

Why would someone want an Immunization Card?

  • You’ll be able to travel between provinces without having to self-isolate for two weeks when you get back.
  • Manitoba health-care centres, including hospitals and personal care homes, will also allow for expanded visitation if both the visitor and patient or resident are fully vaccinated.
  • If you’re fully vaccinated, you may be exempt from self-isolation if you’re identified as a close contact of a COVID-19 case (direction provided from public health officials).
  • Fully vaccinated Manitobans 12 and older with proof of their vaccination status can access restaurants, movie theatres. professional sports events and other places that are not available to those 12 and older who are not fully vaccinated.

For more information please visit the Protect Our People Manitoba website.

Are there side effects from COVID-19 vaccines?

While safe, there can be side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine, but they tend to be mild and go away in a few days, similar to a flu shot. It’s also very normal and natural to experience some side effects as your immune system responds to the vaccine’s healing components.

Responses may include:

  • redness, swelling, or feeling sore where you had the needle
  • feeling tired
  • headache
  • fever or chills
  • body aches or sore joints
  • feeling sick to your stomach (nausea), vomiting (throwing up), or loose stool (diarrhea)
  • swollen lymph nodes

After you receive the vaccine, you will be monitored for at least 15 minutes in the unlikely event you experience an allergic reaction (hives, swelling of the throat, etc.).

If you experience an adverse event or medical condition of concern after you leave the place of vaccination contact your health station/clinic or call Health Links–Info Santé in Winnipeg at (204) 788-8200, or toll free elsewhere in Manitoba at 1-888-315-9257.

Is there a cost to getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

No! All COVID-19 vaccines are free of cost.

What do I need to know when I go to my appointment?

  • Bring your health card, or another type of identification (such as driver’s license).
  • Wear a mask.
  • Wear a short sleeved shirt.
  • If needed, you can bring a helper such as a caregiver or family member (who must also wear a mask).
  • Be prepared for a 45-minute stay at the site.

Once I get the COVID-19 vaccine, can I stop wearing a mask and social distancing, and go back to ‘normal’ life?

Unfortunately, we are still far away from when we can return to ‘normal’ pre-COVID -19 life.

You should continue to:

  • Follow all health orders until the majority of people are vaccinated
  • Stay at home when sick
  • Practice social distancing and wear a mask when in an indoor public space
  • Wash/sanitize your hands frequently and avoid touching your face when out in public
  • Limit social contacts as much as possible

#ProtectOurPeopleMB Campaign!

Protect Our People MB is a grassroots vaccine campaign led by the Southern Chiefs’ Organization Inc. (SCO), Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO), Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC), Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin Inc. (KIM), the First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba (FNHSSM), and the Manitoba government.

Everyone is encouraged to follow and share videos and posts from the Protect Our People MB campaign accounts: Instagram @protectourpeoplemb, Twitter @protectourpplmb, and Facebook @ProtectOurPeopleMB using the hashtags: #protectyourself, #protectourpeople, #protectourcommunities, #protectourpeoplemb #doitforourelders, #doitforourchildren and #vaccineproud.

 For more information on the Protect Our People MB campaign and how to get involved, visit protectourpeoplemb.ca.   

Invaluable Work!

Did you know SCO has put together an amazing team of Indigenous Vaccine Liaisons to ensure cultural safety at supersites across southern Manitoba – including Brandon, Dauphin, Gimli, Selkirk, Morden, Steinbach, and Winnipeg? Let us introduce you to just three of our 30 liaisons:

This ALL-STAR team includes Treasure Campbell from Skownan First Nation!

Treasure applied for this job after a COVID-19 outbreak in her community. She knew she wanted to help protect her loved ones. She put her values into action and joined the team helping to keep Indigenous people safe & supported.

BIG Miigwetch to Treasure!

A STELLAR Indigenous Vaccine Liaison at the Brandon vaccine site is Tristan Beaulieu from Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation!

Tristan is studying psychiatric nursing at the Brandon University and she jumped at the opportunity this summer to help people feeling anxious about getting a vaccine.

Tristan is serving her community while gaining invaluable experience for a future nurse.

You are a true role model, Tristan!

THE INCREDIBLE Cameron Adams’ family hails from Berens River. He sees his role as an invaluable way to make real connections and to help ensure people have dignity when they are vaccinated against #COVID19.

Thank you for your contributions, Cameron!!

Additional Resources

Protect Our People MB – Campaign Posters (PDF)

Province of Manitoba COVID-19 Vaccine resource page

Let’s Get Vaccinated – Anishinaabe Poster

COVID-19 Indigenous Health Resources

COVID-19 and Indigenous Communities – Government of Canada

Financial Supports

Did you know you can access financial benefits and support during the COVID-19 outbreak? All First Nation people have access to these financial benefits, regardless of where you live.

Mental Wellness

If you are experiencing emotional distress and want to talk, contact the toll-free Hope for Wellness Help Line at 1-855-242-3310 or the online chat at hopeforwellness.ca open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Telephone and online counselling are available in English and in Anishinaabe on request.

Kids Help Phone offers professional counselling, information, referrals, and volunteer-led, text-based support for children and youth. Text CONNECT to 6868608.

You can also call the Manitoba Addictions Helpline at 1-855-662-6605.

For other resources and information, visit the SCO Mental Wellness webpage.