Manitoba is expected to begin opening up vaccine appointments to the general public this week.

So far, the provincial call centre has only been accepting appointments for Manitobans in specific job categories.

The plan to begin immunizing the general public will start with people aged 95 and older.

Medical lead on the province's COVID-19 vaccine implementation task force, Dr. Joss Reimer, says immunizations will also open up to First Nations people age 75 and older in the first phase of immunizing the general public.

Reimer explains the age requirement has been set lower for First Nations people because of more severe COVID-outcomes being observed in this population.

“There's almost a 20-year discrepancy in the average age of death between a First Nations person with COVID compared to all other Manitobans with COVID,” Reimer said on Friday.

Reimer stressed that the phone lines are not open yet to the general public, and says she will provide an update this week. 

“I want to reiterate that Manitobans over 95 are not eligible today, please do not call to book an appointment [yet]. But I will let you know ... when that changes.”