Up to 4,000 truck drivers from Manitoba will be offered COVID vaccines for free under a program announced Tuesday and the plan might be expanded to include energy workers, the BBC reports.
This first-time ever cross-border vaccination plan comes as Canada continues to lag behind the U.S. in its vaccination efforts.
Since March 2020, the Canada-U.S. border has been closed except for essential travel, however, the transportation of goods between the two countries has continued.
“The US has got a lot of vaccines and Canada’s got less,” says North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, per the Duluth News Tribune.
“We want to do our part to help those essential workers from Canada who are frequently traveling through our state.” Burgum’s office says the CDC confirmed that there is no ban on the state vaccinating non-citizens.
CTV News Canada reports that Manitoba and North Dakota are working together on the initiative. Premier Brian Pallister said, “Our number one limiting factor in protecting Manitobans from this deadly virus is the availability of COVID-19 vaccines.”
Pallister also said he hopes the program would “lay the groundwork” for a safe reopening of the border. The vaccinations are scheduled to take place over the next six to eight weeks.
To be eligible for this initiative:
- Truck drivers have to be able to cross into the United States and return to Canada without the required quarantine under federal public health rules;
- Drivers must have a valid Manitoba Class 1 Licence;
- Drivers must be on an assignment at the time of their vaccination.
The Washington Post notes that Canada is being hit hard by a third wave of coronavirus cases, with only around 3.0 percent of adults being fully vaccinated, compared to 26 percent of adults being fully vaccinated in the U.S.
It should also be noted that North Dakota will be administering Moderna and Pfizer vaccines during this pilot program.