All Manitobans eligible for 2nd dose on Friday as Moderna shipments increase

All Manitobans will be eligible for their second vaccine dose starting Friday and it’ll be easier to get those shots.

“We want it to be your turn to get immunized as quickly as possible,” Johanu Botha, operations lead of the province’s vaccine implementation task force, said on Thursday.

Manitoba is extending hours at some vaccination sites as it expects to dole out more than 200,000 doses during the week of June 28-July 4.

Botha said that operating hours at the RBC Convention Centre and Leila Avenue supersite will be extended from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. for one day, on June 28. Extending hours further is under consideration, he said.

Anyone who has received a first dose is eligible for second dose as of 11:45 a.m. on Friday — as long as there is at least 28 days between the shots. 

Second dose eligibility was expanded Thursday to include those who received their first dose on or before June 6. 

Appointments can be booked on the province’s website or by calling the toll-free line 1-844-626-8222 between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. CT.

WATCH | ‘It’s a really big deal,’ Botha says about all Manitobans being eligible for 2nd dose

Johanu Botha, operations lead of the province’s vaccine implementation task force, announced Thursday that starting Friday at 11:45 a.m., all Manitobans 12 and up will be able to book a 2nd dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 1:28

The 217,000 doses the province plans to administer next week is a leap from the 180,798 this week and 106,028 last week.

Clinics and pharmacies will play a key role in providing those doses. They are expected to receive 45,688 of the doses next week, a sevenfold increase from last week when they received 6,000 doses.

(Manitoba government)

The vaccine supersites will have the lion’s share of the vaccines, with just over 148,000 — up from 88,998 last week.

Doses for young people

Botha noted, though, that it won’t help everyone.

“If you’re a parent, you know that the news about large shipments of vaccine rings a bit hollow at this time,” he said.

“Our Pfizer supply in the short term is extremely limited and right now that’s the only type of vaccine approved for young people aged 12-17.”

The province is expecting 141,700 doses of Moderna to be delivered next week, which is down significantly from the 240,000 this week. However, it is still the second-largest delivery since at least late April.

The weekly Pfizer delivery, which has held steady at 87,800 since the end of May, will reach that mark for next week once again but deliveries for the first two weeks of July are being reduced — 32,800 and 52,700 — and no shipments have been confirmed beyond that.

So for now, the province doesn’t plan to open up new Pfizer appointments beyond those already booked. It also means the province isn’t taking new second-dose appointments for 12-17-year-olds.

In the meantime, adults who have a booked Pfizer appointment can transfer their appointment to a child through the provincial call centre at 1-844-MAN-VACC (1-844-626-8222), then make a different appointment for themselves.

“It’s an interim solution. The Pfizer supply chain will stabilize,” said Botha. “We’ll still get the same amount of Pfizer as  we expected by the end of July.”

Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the vaccine implementation task force, said no approval has come yet from Health Canada on administering Moderna for the 12-17 age group, but it is expected soon.

Reopening early

As a result of surpassing a target of 70 per cent of Manitobans with one dose and 25 per cent with two, the provincial government announced Wednesday it is loosening public health orders — effective 12:01 a.m. on June 26 — as part of its reopening plan.

Despite the upcoming vaccine shortages, in its weekly vaccine briefing document the province said it’s ahead of schedule to meet the next target date, which is the Terry Fox Day long weekend in August.

That’s when it aims to have at least 75 per cent of eligible people immunized with a first dose and 50 per cent with a second dose. If it reaches that goal, capacity limits on businesses are expected to increase to 50 per cent.

The chart in the document projects that goal to be met by early July.

“By all accounts, we’re seeing enough of an uptick, if I can call it that, to be confident that will meet all of our reopening targets, to be sure,” Botha said on Thursday.

As of Thursday, 71.9 per cent of Manitobans age 12 or older have a first vaccine dose, according to the province’s vaccination dashboard, while 30.8 per cent have two doses.

(Manitoba government)

If the goal of 80 per cent of Manitobans with one dose and 75 per cent with two doses is met by Labour Day, the third phase of reopening will take place.

Premier Brian Pallister told reporters on Thursday that if the vaccine totals are reached earlier than their target dates, and as long as the daily COVID-19 case counts are low enough, the reopenings could come sooner.

The target date for the first reopening phase was July 1.

Walk-up appointments

Since the province first began offering a walk-up option for vaccinations a little under a week ago at the Leila supersite, there has been a strong response, Botha said, apologizing for the long lineups some people experienced.

“The reality of the walk-in model is that individuals may be turned away or may have to wait longer. We’re trying to minimize this occurring, especially for those that show up for their first dose,” he said. 

“But we’re very excited to see people show up for them.”

All supersites, except the RBC Convention Centre, are now offering those walk-up appointments.

The number of vaccinations may vary by day and by site, but will be approximately 10 per cent of all doses available. The sites will continue to prioritize first-dose immunizations for those in line for a walk-up, Botha said.

Some of the province’s vaccine partners have also tried the walk-up option and the demand has been similarly great. There was a long line at Shoppers Drug Mart in Osborne Village on Sunday until the doses ran out.

A list of sites taking bookings is available on the province’s vaccine finder map.

Other options for vaccinations are being offered through community-led clinics.

“These are non-profit organizations, businesses, churches, post-secondary institutions who have the ability to organize and host an immuization clinic,” Botha said.

They are often small locations that operate for a day or two, they can reach people who might have barriers in getting to the provincial sites, or might be otherwise hesitant, he said.

The province has also taken other steps to bridge the gap for those who are hesitant, Botha noted.

“We’ve done things like — and this might sound like a small gesture to some, but I think it’s a big deal to be welcoming in your own community — we’ve done things like have a Low German signs and cards at the Morden supersite.”

The uptake on the community-driven model has been strong and more clinics are being requested all the time, he added.

“We will continue to get needles into arms as quickly as we can, but it is important that we strike this balance with communities and the people we need to connect with,” Botha said.

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