Manitoba expands COVID-19 vaccination effort as pace of first doses begins to slow

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WINNIPEG — The third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Manitoba shows more signs of abating.

Dr. Jazz Atwal, the province's deputy chief public health officer, says people are generally following public health orders and daily case counts continue to drop.

Health officials reported 223 new cases and two deaths in the province.

The case count is down sharply from a peak of more than 600 last month.

But Atwal says the strain on the health-care system remains high, with 30 intensive care patients being treated in other provinces to free up beds.

The province has also reached a vaccine milestone, with more than one million vaccine shots administered, including second doses.

"Our case numbers are headed in a good direction and our vaccination rates are increasing, but we continue to see strain on our health-care system," Atwal said Friday.

More than 68 per cent of Manitobans aged 12 and up have received at least one dose, but Atwal said the pace of people getting first doses had started to slow.

The province has made efforts to reach out to marginalized communities and people who may be reluctant to get a shot. There are mobile clinics in inner-city Winnipeg, and outreach is underway to community leaders in rural areas south of Winnipeg where uptake has been low.

The province is also planning to let people in need of a first dose get walk-in service — no appointment needed — for three days next week at one of its mass vaccination sites in Winnipeg.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 11, 2021.

The Canadian Press