North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister today announced the Essential Worker Cross-Border Vaccination Initiative, where North Dakota will administer COVID-19 vaccinations to Manitoba-based truck drivers transporting goods to and from the United States. This is the first such program between a Canadian and American jurisdiction.
“North Dakota and Manitoba have a long and rich history of friendship and cooperation, and this vaccination initiative is an opportunity to strengthen that bond by offering assistance that will protect public health and the flow of goods and services on both sides of the border,” Burgum said. “With adequate vaccine supplies and all North Dakotans having access to vaccine while Canada is dealing with a vaccine shortage, we want to do our part to ensure essential workers from Canada who are frequently traveling through our state are vaccinated. The timely and effective administration of vaccines is essential for public health and the eventual safe reopening of our shared border.”
The Essential Workers Cross-Border Vaccination Initiative is an opportunity to support Manitoba’s and North Dakota’s integrated economies by cooperating on the vaccination of individuals who work in both jurisdictions.
“As Manitoba faces the third wave of the pandemic and the significant challenges associated with variants of concern, our number one limiting factor in protecting Manitobans is the availability of COVID-19 vaccines,” Pallister said. “Manitoba is proud to partner with North Dakota on this innovative strategy to provide life-saving vaccines to Manitoba’s essential workers delivering the goods and services Manitobans, Canadians and Americans rely on. Manitoba and North Dakota have enjoyed a strong relationship of mutual respect and friendship, and I want to thank Governor Burgum and his team for their willingness to support Manitoba through this joint vaccination effort.”
With the assistance of the Manitoba Trucking Association (MTA) and its members, Manitoba will identify and co-ordinate with eligible individuals and work with North Dakota to schedule vaccination appointments for truck drivers during their routine trips to the U.S. over the next six to eight weeks. It is estimated roughly 2,000 to 4,000 Manitoba drivers will take part in this program.
“On behalf of my eligible driving staff and all Manitoba Trucking Association members, I welcome today’s announcement,” said Bernie Driedger, president of Portage Transport Inc. “When it comes to the COVID vaccine the most important question is not where can one get it, but when can one get it? To see Manitoba and North Dakota coming together to creatively collaborate on a vaccination strategy that will expedite the vaccination of Manitoba truck drivers working to or through North Dakota is excellent news. This move protects these important essential workers and their families, while also freeing up vaccination spots back in Manitoba. A genuine win/win. We congratulate our provincial government partners on the initiative they took to make this happen”.
The North Dakota Department of Transportation’s rest area near Drayton, N.D., will initially serve as the vaccination site, which will also be open to North Dakotans ages 16 and older to get vaccinated. Vaccinations will take place from noon to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
The state and province are establishing a joint-operations group to manage the initiative. The North Dakota Department of Health will provide nurses and other staff to administer the first and second doses of the vaccine to provide full immunization of truckers. There is no cost to the state or province as the U.S. government supplies the vaccine and reimburses the costs to administer.
The shared goal of this initiative is to create a model of continental co-operation for others to emulate as we prepare to safely reopen our shared border. Manitoba and North Dakota will consider further joint initiatives to vaccinate other essential workers and Manitobans.
North Dakota and Manitoba share the fifth-busiest border crossing between the United States and Canada, and it represents the gateway to economic opportunity and prosperity in the Midwest and Prairies.