Health officials urge Manitobans to get vaccinated, stay home if sick this holiday season

Provincial health officials are urging Manitobans to remember the fundamentals this holiday season, get vaccinated, and stay home if you’re sick in order to keep our most vulnerable safe.

In a news conference held Saturday, Manitoba’s Health, Seniors and Long-term Care Minister Uzoma Asagwara appealed to Manitobans to prioritize getting vaccinated for both COVID-19 and influenza as the province faces increased demand on its healthcare system. The plea comes just days before Christmas, with concerns rising about the strain on health care facilities.

“We are in a season that is filled with joy, a lot of laughter, a lot of hope, and getting together with family,” said Asagwara. “And in the midst of all of that it is so important that we take that extra step to ensure that our gatherings with our loved ones are as safe as they can be.”

Asagwara emphasized that vaccines work to keep people healthy and are a crucial step in safeguarding the elderly, children, and those with compromised immune systems. “We’re talking about ensuring that our sickest patients, people who are in need of critical care, are able to get that care where and when they need it,” Asagwara said.

Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin echoed the minister’s urgent message, adding that many Manitoba critical care units are already over capacity.

“This is occurring, especially in children’s hospital ICU and adult ICU across the province,” Roussin said.  “So we know those ICUs are over capacity right now in Manitoba. And that’s including pediatric ICUs, and children requiring that that critical care.”

Roussin said the numbers are likely to get worse before they get better.

“I want to express my gratitude to frontline health care workers in Manitoba, they’ve been here for Manitobans for so long now. And we’re in another area where we’re relying on them again,” he said.

Both Roussin and Asagwara asked frontline health care workers to consider picking up extra shifts over the holidays to help ease strain on the system.

“If these folks could find capacity, if you do have capacity, if you have the ability to pick up any extra shifts, we’re hoping that you can do so. And I recognize that that’s a big ask,” Asagwara said.

Most pharmacies offer walk-in vaccination services. You can still book a vaccine appointment and find a location near you using the provincial vaccine finder.

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