Health officials say the fear and systemic pressures impacting many Manitoban's pandemic experiences can be met with an understanding of how the fears were created in the first place.

As more Manitobans get second COVID-19 vaccine doses, restrictions will be loosened, starting with those who have received their second dose of the vaccine. 

For some, getting the first dose continues to be a difficult decision. 

"The thing that we need to do is to demonstrate empathy. Nobody is choosing to not be vaccinated because they want to do something that is harmful. Everybody makes decisions based on what they think is best for themselves and for their families," Manitoba's COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force's medical lead Dr. Joss Reimer says in a Wednesday press conference.

She says when talking to someone about the vaccine it is important to not make someone feel defensive.

"They are trying to do what is best for themselves and for their families and their communities."


More COVID cases in BIPOC communities

Throughout the pandemic in Manitoba, BIPOC communities have been majorly overrepresented in COVID-19 cases. White people are underrepresented and Indigenous people are overrepresented in May's COVID-19 cases.

covid cases(Government of Manitoba)

South-East Asian, African, and South Asian are the ethnic group or race most likely to get COVID-19. Anderson says this has to do with their likelihood of congested living conditions and higher-risk jobs.

"This is due to the same and ongoing structural factors that were highlighted in the previously released REI report. This includes that racialized communities have higher rates of both housing and income insecurity," Anderson says.

Chinese and White people are the least likely to contract COVID-19.

group cases(Government of Manitoba)



Medical treatment history and its impact on vaccine uptake

Racialized communities have a history of facing issues getting adequate medical treatment, creating longstanding distrust. 

"Previous negative experiences with healthcare due to system racism and mistrust can be significant barriers to people in accessing the vaccine and healthcare in BIPOC communities," says Marcia Anderson, the First Nations Pandemic Response Coordination Team's public leader.

marcia andersonMarcia Anderson is also a senior official with the Vaccine Implementation Task Force. (Screenshot: Government of Manitoba/YouTube)

Anderson suspects there is another issue with the riskier jobs these racialized communities tend to take. As many have income insecurity, they often work multiple jobs or odd hours. The doctor is hoping walk-in clinics will help people in this situation access a vaccine easier.

Anderson works directly with Manitoba's First Nation communities but notes other ethnic groups also have a history of medical maltreatment, including experimentation, that impacts how they view the vaccine.

She suggests community organizations and provincial partnerships will help identify needs and give information.

Working with community groups, the doctor's hope is to provide people with accurate information from leaders they know and trust.

They are also working closely with newcomer groups, who are no strangers to vaccines.

"Vaccine culture is very common, but because of all the propaganda against the vaccine and anti-vaxxers, people have lots of concerns whether the vaccine is safe," Maysoun Darweesh, a board member with Ethnocultural Council of Manitoba said in an earlier interview

At the time, Darweesh said collaboration between the province and partners was important to give accurate information.

The province has been providing translation services since the end of April for people calling to book and going for their COVID-19 vaccine appointments.

Johanu Botha, the task force's operations lead, says a big pressure point is needing more doses.