Manitoba officials say teachers will have to get in line with everyone else — even some of their own students — for COVID-19 vaccine shots.
Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of Manitoba’s vaccine task force, poured cold water on the idea of prioritizing teachers, while details remain scant on allowing them to get a shot across the U.S. border in North Dakota.
"There’s actually very little we can do to bump anybody up in eligibility, because of how quickly we’re going to reach all Manitobans," Reimer told reporters Wednesday.
"At this point, we’re only talking about a matter of a few weeks before all Manitobans are eligible to book an appointment."
The Manitoba Teachers’ Society and opposition political parties had called for teachers to be prioritized for vaccines, given they are front-line workers and the multiple COVID-19 exposures and outbreaks linked to schools.
The province instead opened up eligibility to certain hot spot areas, including any adults residing in those zones as well as workers with front-line jobs in those places.
"We included teachers in our community-based approach because the government wanted to ensure that we provide protection to those settings where we had the most concern about transmission," Reimer said Wednesday.
She argued with 16 days left until every Manitoba adult can book an appointment, there was little need to expand criteria to specific occupations.
The province will continue dropping age eligible for shots, and said anyone age 18 and up should be able to book an appointment by May 21.
Officials said Monday children aged 12 and up will likely also qualify by then, too, pending guidance from scientists.
That means instead of being among the first Manitobans to get vaccinated, teachers could end up waiting in line at a super site with their teenage pupils.
Last week, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister announced teachers will also be able to go to North Dakota to get vaccinated, though the province still hasn’t released details.
The federal Liberals had raised concerns about exempting teachers from requirements for anyone crossing the U.S. border to get tested for COVID-19 and quarantine for two weeks.
The teachers society declined to comment Wednesday on teachers not being prioritized, as well as the North Dakota plan.