Readers Ask: Numbers, Moderna and priority

·3 min read

Brandon Sun readers request specific questions be asked about COVID-19.

QUESTION: if a person from Rapid City, for example, were to test positive at the Brandon site, would they not be added to Brandon district numbers?

PROVINCIAL SPOKESPERSON: Numbers are tracked by home address — i.e., the address on the Manitoba Health Card is where that case will be attributed to in our numbers, not the testing location.

As to your example, if that person’s home address were to show as Rapid City on their health card, that’s where we would consider the case to be from, not the testing location (Brandon).

QUESTION: I understand Moderna’s vaccine efficacy in participants 65 years of age and older appears to be lower than in younger adults 18 to 65 years — 86.4 per cent compared to 95.6 per cent. Considering First Nation elders are top of list for vaccination — is this on your radar at all as an issue? The question would apply, as well, regarding any personal care homes using Moderna.

DR. JOSS REIMER: We are constantly looking at the data that’s provided by the companies, as well as by other jurisdictions. We will be sure to analyze it on an ongoing basis. What we have right now shows it as a very effective vaccine and we are confident that it will be beneficial to those who are receiving it.

QUESTION: People who work at a COVID testing site are eligible to receive the vaccine. Why aren’t people who work directly with COVID-positive clients at alternative isolation accommodation sites included in the eligibility criteria?

REIMER: We have looked at a number of different issues when it comes to determining the eligibility criteria. We looked at issues like whether or not the people would potentially be exposed to the virus in the workplace. We’re also looking at how vulnerable the patients or clients in that setting might be. So for example, for personal care homes, it’s essential that the staff be immunized so that they’re not a source of infection or the individual living in that setting because they’re more likely to experience severe harm.

We’re also looking at where we’ve seen evidence of outbreaks and disease transmission, particularly between staff and residents or patients. We’re looking at where we have a specialized workforce with specialized skills or those where any work disruption would be quite critical to the system. All of those factors have to be considered at the same time.

So one of the reasons that the COVID immunization clinics became a priority was around that workforce issue. It is critical that these clinics be up and running with as many people as we need in order to give every vaccine as fast as we can.

So it was important that not only that we have the eligibility in there to help recruit some of the workers to that batch location, but also to prevent that from ever becoming a source of infection. The last thing we would want for Manitobans is to have one of our vaccine clinics become the site of an outbreak, and so we wanted to ensure that we were protecting everyone who was working there, as well as protecting everyone who is coming through to get their vaccine.

Do you have a question? Send your questions to opinion@brandonsun.com with the subject line: Readers Ask.

Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun