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Phone call from doctor prompts happy dance

News of vaccine eligibility welcome relief

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Michelle Bailey has spent months being afraid of contracting COVID-19, while believing she was months away from getting the vaccine.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/03/2021 (687 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Michelle Bailey has spent months being afraid of contracting COVID-19, while believing she was months away from getting the vaccine.

Turns out, she was wrong: she will get it next week.

Bailey, 51, has just qualified for the vaccine because of her age, and because she has a blood disorder.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Michelle Bailey, 51, is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination next week due to underlying health conditions.

New rules allow people aged 50 to 64, who have at least one of several underlying medical conditions or disabilities, to get the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“I’m a little dumbfounded,” said Bailey on Friday.

“I didn’t think I was eligible. I didn’t even look at the list… but then the receptionist or assistant from my doctor’s office called and asked if I wanted to get the vaccine because I’m a priority.

“I have to say, I did a bit of a happy dance.”

Until this week, vaccine eligibility included people 80 or older or First Nations people 60 or older. On Friday, the province expanded the eligibility to include all workers who live in congregate settings who are 40 or older.

As part of a pilot rollout of the AstraZeneca/Covishield vaccine, which is easier to store so it can be given out at doctors’ offices and pharmacies, the province announced Wednesday it would allow people aged 50 to 64 in the general population, and First Nations people aged 30 to 64, with a high-risk medical condition or certain disability, to get the vaccine starting next week.

The conditions include people with Down syndrome, certain cardiac conditions, cirrhosis, severe COPD, severe obesity, chronic kidney disease, active tuberculosis, dementia, cerebral palsy and cystic fibrosis.

The province is distributing 18,000 doses to doctors’ offices and pharmacies over the next few days.

David Kron, executive director of the Cerebral Palsy Association of Manitoba, said he hopes in the coming weeks the age eligibility listed drops so that younger Manitobans with the same high-risk conditions can be vaccinated.

“The priority list cannot just be based on a birth date,” said Kron. “It has to be based on a disability and health concern.”

Donna Buchanan, 58, not only has cerebral palsy, but also has suffered from severe asthma since she was 14.

“Success,” said Buchanan about now being eligible for the vaccine.

“It’s a great thing. I’ve spent the last year isolating, I have no choice. Not that there’s anything to do anyway.

“I’m very happy.”

Bailey said her blood disorder began after her first pregnancy. She didn’t realize how ill she was until about a year ago, just as the pandemic started and the provincial government ordered a shutdown of non-essential businesses and services.

“Because of lockdown, not a lot of people saw me because of isolating,” she said.

“But when a friend delivered juice to me, they saw me and said ‘You should go get checked.’ At that point, I could barely get to the door because I was so tired.”

At the hospital, it was determined her hemoglobin was so low she needed a blood transfusion. Over the course of the next week, she received six blood transfusions.

“I listened to a friend and it saved my life,” she said.

“I do not feel guilty getting the shot at all. Everyone should go educate themselves and see if they are eligible, too.”

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason
Reporter

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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