Kailynn Newediuk anticipated waiting a long time when she signed up for her COVID-19 immunization card.

Kailynn Newediuk anticipated waiting a long time when she signed up for her COVID-19 immunization card.

It took more than a month before her dad received his card. Her grandparents faced a lengthy delay, too.


JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>Kailynn Newediuk, who submitted her request Aug. 3, has not yet received her vaccination card.</p>
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<p>JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>Kailynn Newediuk, who submitted her request Aug. 3, has not yet received her vaccination card.</p>
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<p>People who request plastic proof of their double vaccination get an email from Manitoba Health saying it has received the request, and if they don’t have their card within 14 days, they should contact the government.			</p>
<p>“I wasn’t expecting to have it on time,” said Newediuk, who submitted her request Aug. 3. The two-week deadline has passed.			</p>
<p>On Aug. 24, the province announced it would expand the list of amenities and services available only to fully vaccinated people. Personalized immunization cards with QR codes, in either digital or physical formats, are needed for Manitobans to prove they’ve received two doses.			</p>
<p>As of Monday, 738,221 people had asked to receive both digital and physical immunization cards. Another 37,628 have requested only digital copies.			</p>
<p>The province had mailed 588,000 physical cards by Aug. 20; another 150,000 are outstanding.			</p>
<p>Each day, an average of 4,200 people sign up.			</p>
<p>“I’m not too concerned about the (physical) card,” Newediuk, 26, said. “(But) for even, my dad, he has a smartphone, he can download the app, but it’s so much easier and comfortable for him to whip out the card.”			</p>
<p>Like her father, Newediuk has the Manitoba Immunization Card app — a virtual option that displays her QR code. However, she wants a printed copy.			</p>
<p>“There is a comfort in knowing that if I couldn’t open the app for some reason, I could just open up my wallet and pull out my card,” she said.			</p>
<p>Emails with updates about the card’s progress would be nice, she said — especially given the delays.			</p>
<p>As of Aug. 20, the province had mailed out all cards that had been requested before July 27, a provincial spokesperson said.			</p>
<p>“The demand for physical cards exceeded expectations,” the spokesperson wrote. “Despite the demand… the vast majority of Manitobans are using the card in its digital format.”			</p>
<p>They said the government is working to process cards as quickly as possible.			</p>
<p>Currently, people need to flash their cards to enter casinos, professional sporting events and concert halls, among other places. In late June to mid-July, Manitobans showed their QR codes to sit with vaccinated friends and family inside restaurants.			</p>
<p>The province said this week there will be more instances in which immunization cards will be required for admissions to events.			</p>
<p>Uzoma Asagwara, the NDP’s health critic, expressed frustration at the backlog in cards being issued, saying the Progressive Conservatives have not hired enough people to meet the demand for cards.			</p>
<p>“(The province) needs to make sure that every resource is established and in place to make sure that those folks who have made the decision to be vaccinated can reap the full benefits of that decision,” Asagwara said.			</p>
<p>“Those folks (are) feeling frustrated, and disappointed, and unable to do the things that the government tells them they’re able to do because the government hasn’t held up their end of this agreement.”			</p>
<p>The province launched the immunization cards in June and the app in August.			</p>
<p>The QR codes are not recognized outside the province. Randy Betcher, from Swan River, said he showed his QR code to a Canadian customs officer in Toronto’s airport upon returning from a hiking trip in the United States. The officer would not accept the code as proof of vaccination; luckily, Betcher had taken a printout of the dates of his vaccinations that listed the type of vaccines he received. The officer accepted that as proof.			</p>
<p>“I don’t know what would’ve happened if I didn’t have (it),” Betcher said.			</p>
<p>Manitobans who travel back to Canada via an airport in another province, must have a copy of their COVID-19 vaccine records from Shared Health in order to show they’ve been fully vaccinated and avoid having to quarantine.			</p>
<p>gabrielle.piche@freepress.mb.ca			</p>
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