Manitoba Unveils Its COVID-19 Vaccination Plan

After months of preparation, Manitoba will begin to implement its COVID-19 vaccination plan as early as next week, once the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine supplied by the federal government arrive in the province, Premier Brian Pallister announced today.

“With only a very limited supply of new vaccines available before the spring, we will follow the advice of national and provincial public health experts,” said Pallister. “We will focus our initial immunization efforts on those most at risk of COVID-19 including seniors, those working in the health-care system and in long-term care facilities, and Indigenous peoples.”

Pallister confirmed the first 1,950 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will arrive next week, which is enough to immunize about 900 recipients with two doses each. These first doses will be administered to front-line health-care workers in Manitoba’s critical care units to ensure that significant critical COVID care can continue to be provided.

Further vaccine shipments are expected to arrive in late December or early January. In total, Manitoba has been told it will receive 228,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines between now and March 31, 2021, enough to vaccinate more than 100,000 Manitobans or approximately seven per cent of the total population. This is based on a federal per capita allocation, with an additional 9,600 Moderna vaccine doses the province has secured due to Manitoba’s higher proportion of Indigenous population.

“This is the most challenging public health situation our province has ever faced and the special challenges of dealing with a brand new vaccine, with very limited supply, creates incredibly difficult logistical and planning challenges for all governments,” said Pallister. “We have stood up a solid infrastructure to have vaccines administered quickly and safely.”

Manitoba’s priority populations have been recommended by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, working with public health experts across the country through the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Special Advisory Committee on COVID-19. These priority populations include:
• health-care workers most directly involved in the COVID-19 response;
• seniors in congregate living settings such as long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities, retirement homes, and chronic care hospitals;
• older adults starting at 80 years of age and older; and
• adults at risk in remote or isolated Indigenous communities.

“As we unfortunately know too well, older people are the most at risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer. “Health-care workers are always at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 or transmitting it to others. We need to protect them in order to protect our health care system.”

“We have been assured by the federal government that sufficient doses will eventually be made available for every Manitoban who wants a vaccination, but that will take time,” said Pallister. “I ask Manitobans to be patient until that day arrives, and keep practicing the fundamentals of living with COVID by staying safely apart, washing your hands and wearing a mask.”

The first temporary immunization clinic is ready now in Winnipeg. Yesterday, the site successfully completed a logistic ‘dry run’ with a federal/provincial test of the Manitoba’s joint logistics capabilities. More fixed vaccination sites are planned to be opened over the next three months in Winnipeg, Brandon, Thompson, Steinbach, Gimli, Portage la Prairie and The Pas. Over 60 freezers of varying specifications have already been procured or allocated to the province to meet the very stringent physical storage and distribution demands of these two vaccines. By January, the province will have the capacity to safely store more than 1.8 million doses of vaccine. Dry ice and related supplies have also been purchased to ensure the quality of vaccine and safety for people who will work with it.

As part of its plan to protect Manitobans against COVID-19, the province will soon begin actively recruiting individuals whose skills and commitment will be integral to the vaccination campaign. This will include positions like clinic managers, immunization clinical leaders, immunization team members, clinic navigators and post-immunization observation team members. Retired doctors, nurses and other health professionals, as well as medical and nursing students, will all be encouraged to join Team Manitoba’s COVID-19 Vaccine Response as a vaccinator.

“We know there are Manitobans ready to join the fight against COVID-19 and are looking for a way to match their skills with the pandemic response,” said Pallister. “Now is the time to step forward, to help protect your fellow Manitobans. Your contribution will support months of planning and preparedness, so we are ready to deliver the vaccine to Manitobans as soon as possible. Together, we can stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep each other safe.”

The Manitoba government is partnering with Red River College to ensure professionals, including retired professionals, hired to administer the COVID-19 vaccine can upgrade or extend their existing skills to do so safely, under clinical supervision.

The premier noted every precaution will be taken to help protect Manitobans who choose to work in vaccination clinics including appropriate personal protective equipment and a safe work environment. As more vaccines become available to Manitobans, those administering the vaccines to patients will also be prioritized to receive the vaccine.

The premier added the province has been notified it will receive an additional allocation of 9,600 doses of vaccine from the federal government in the first quarter of 2021, in addition to its per capita allocation, to help ensure broader access to vaccination for Indigenous people living in remote and isolated communities. Manitoba will invite the participation of Indigenous health experts and leaders from the Manitoba First Nations Pandemic Response Co-ordination Team to inform provincial planning.

“The unique challenges of providing vaccines to First Nations, who are among the most vulnerable to and impacted by COVID-19 in the province, requires this extra support,” said Pallister. “We will work in partnership with Indigenous leadership and the federal government to ensure that elders and others who need the vaccine can get it.”

Information about the vaccine clinic, including how to book an appointment, will be provided in the coming days to those health-care workers who will be immunized, the premier added.

More information about employment opportunities in Manitoba’s vaccine clinics will be posted as soon as they are available at www.manitoba.ca/covid19/vaccine/jobs.html.

The Manitoba government is taking strong action to protect Manitobans and ensure timely access to care. For more information on COVID-19 in Manitoba, visit www.manitoba.ca/COVID19.

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