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Underlying Conditions at All Ages Should be a Vaccine Priority

Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg, MB - Manitoba Liberals are calling on the Pallister Government to ensure people with underlying medical conditions that put them at greater risk from Covid-19 be made a vaccine priority.

People on respirators and those with autoimmune disorders, Type 1 diabetes and individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities are all at greater risk of severe complications from Covid-19, and Manitoba's vaccine plan must include them to be vaccinated early.

Rhonda Wiebe is a 60-year old woman with multiple disabilities who says she was horrified to hear on the news that no priority was being given to people with underlying health conditions.

"Many of us have not been able to maintain personal contact with our specialists and other physicians because of the near collapse of our health care system," said Wiebe. "We are such an easy target for Covid-19, and yet, because our voices are not heard by the current provincial government, we are excluded from this potentially life-saving vaccine. We want to know how this decision was made and why we are not included."

Dougald Lamont, MLA St. Boniface and Leader of the Manitoba Liberals, said there is no good explanation for why a population that is known to be at highest risk has been left off the vaccine priority list.

"From the very beginning of this pandemic, Manitoba Liberals have been calling on the PC government to do more to protect the vulnerable who are most at risk in any crisis," said Lamont. "As leaders, we have a moral obligation to ensure that vulnerable people, who are too often overlooked, do not fall through the cracks in vaccine planning."

The Public Health Agency of Canada lists people with risk of more severe disease outcomes as, "Older adults (increasing risk with each decade, especially over 60 years)."]

• People of any age with chronic medical conditions (for example, lung disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, stroke or dementia)

• People of any age who are immunocompromised, including those with an underlying medical condition (for example, cancer) or taking medications that lower the immune system (for example, chemotherapy)

Manitoba Liberal Health Critic, Dr. Jon Gerrard, MLA River Heights, said individuals with disabilities who are on respirators at home are among those at greatest risk of severe disease must be a priority as well.

"It says a lot about the PC's priorities that they haven't made people with disabilities or underlying health conditions a priority," said Gerrard. "People with underlying conditions have had to work harder than most to stay home and stay safe for the last months. They need peace of mind and a priority vaccine category of their own."

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