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First Manitobans Receive COVID-19 Vaccine Doses

December 16, 2020 3:45 PM | News

Dr. Brian Penner

Dr. Brian Penner, internal medicine, Health Sciences Centre, receives the first COVID-19 inoculation in Manitoba from LoriAnn Laramee, public health nurse, in the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg, Wednesday, December 16, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods)

WINNIPEG — The first immunizations for COVID-19 were given Wednesday morning, signalling the start of the largest vaccine campaign in Manitoba history.

Dr. Brian Penner, who works in internal medicine at Health Sciences Centre, was inoculated just after 8:30 a.m. at the University of Manitoba Rady Faculty of Health Sciences campus.

Penner says he was feeling well after getting the vaccination.

“We are extremely lucky that we live in Canada, in Manitoba, and that people made huge efforts to get us this vaccine,” Penner said Wednesday.

The Pfizer vaccine must remain in the same location where it is delivered.

An ultralow temperature freezer was installed at the University of Manitoba’s Bannatyne campus, where the immunization clinic is set up.

The province is also looking to establish similar sites in Brandon, Thompson, Steinbach, Gimli, Portage la Prairie and The Pas in the new year.

Dr. Brian Sharkey, a family physician, and Sherry Plett, a registered nurse with Southern Health, were the next two people to be vaccinated.

Plett said she did a happy dance when she learned she would among those getting the first round of the vaccine doses.

“I need to be healthy so I can be there and look after people in our community,” Plett said.

She added she also wants to protect her daughter, who needs dialysis.

“If feel very fortunate and blessed.”

Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, said about 900 health-care workers are expected to receive the vaccine by the end of the week. Everyone will require a second dose in about three weeks.

“We’ve been dealing with this virus for nine months. We are going to have to deal with it for many more months,” Roussin told a news conference.

“But today we start fighting back.”

Roussin said it was a journey to organize how to get the vaccine from the manufacturer to the dose in Penner’s arm.

The first round of those vaccinated will have to return in three weeks for a second dosage. The follow-up inoculations will take place at the RBC Convention Centre in early January — the province’s first ‘super site’ vaccination clinic.

The province will receive further vaccine shipments in late December or early January. Manitoba will receive 228,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines between now and March 31, 2021, enough to vaccinate more than 100,000 Manitobans or approximately seven percent of the total population.

— With files from The Canadian Press