Vaccination supersite opens

·8 min read

Despite a glitch in text messaging for the Brandon vaccination site, COVID -19 vaccinations took place as planned Monday morning.

Joanna Robb, who works at Shared Health’s Westman Regional Laboratory, was the first to be vaccinated yesterday morning. Kirsten Boyce, Robb’s co-worker, was the second. They booked their appointments without issue early last week. Both say no one in their workplace had any issues with booking their appointments.

The two, along with others in their workplace, work with body-fluid samples, primarily screening for cancer and pre-cancerous changes.

“We’ve already started to see body fluids coming through where it says COVID-positive,” Robb said.

As to how they felt about being vaccinated, they both said they were happy to receive the vaccine.

Robb said she’s the one in the lab following all the daily numbers. She has a co-worker with family in Saskatchewan who hasn’t seen her parents since the summer. Robb has three children, including a daughter in Grade 12, who is experiencing a tumultuous final year in school.

“Everything is just upside-down and to just have this hope that the vaccine is actually happening here in Brandon, now, it’s hopeful. It’s definitely moving the right way. If we could just give everyone a vaccine, like the Amazon dropoff, that would be great,” Robb said.

“If there was just a way for everyone that wanted a vaccine, if they could get one … But, we have to be patient and wait.”

However, Robb acknowledges how amazing it is that one year after COVID-19 began its spread, vaccines are being deployed.

“It’s happening,” she said.

“We’ve discussed it amongst ourselves, co-workers, and we talked to our clinical microbiologist — I always say he’s my panic button. If he panics, I panic. So, as long as he’s keeping his calm demeanour, I’m always good. Everyone was working for the same goal. I have confidence in it.”

Boyce said her experience was also “easy peasy.”

“Seeing how we just heard that they’re paring things back for now, I’m just so, so grateful to have the opportunity to be one of the people that actually gets it so soon. I’m super excited to get this done. I was talking with my family last night … My brother is like, ‘I have major vaccine envy,’” Boyce said.

The province is not taking new appointment bookings, due to Pfizer announcing a slowdown in vaccine production, but all appointments currently booked will be honoured. Dr. Joss Reimer said Monday afternoon at the province’s daily COVID-19 update they are recalibrating the coming weeks as a result of that announcement.

Robb said the flow through the various stations at the Keystone vaccination site went smoothly. Neither Robb nor Boyce felt the effects of the text issue, which sent the address of the Winnipeg vaccination site for their Brandon appointments. They both knew where they were booked.

PetalMD, the company being paid $436,400 to manage COVID-19 screening services for the province, made that text mistake, and were lambasted in emails between provincial employees.

“Per Adam’s note — we are now creating a process where we are checking PedalMD’s work. This is the same organization used by over 37,000 doctors across Canada. They are the largest, most reputable player in the space. They have now done this to us — twice. We are going to put them on training heels,” wrote Paul Beauregard to a list of several government employees.

In the email thread, contractual penalties are discussed.

NDP leadership has an issue with the government and PedalMD. They say this is one more glaring example of mistakes being made during the pandemic.

“I think that this is another mistake in the vaccine rollout from the government. I think the average Manitoban probably understands that everyone makes mistakes sometimes, but it does seem pretty odd that the government seems to be making so many mistakes so many times when it comes to the vaccine rollout, whether it was wasting doses or long waits on the phone, trouble booking appointments, and then, now, messing up the messaging of the addresses a few times,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew.

“In the emails, you see the government admitting themselves that they’ve made some mistakes, more than once. They’ve done it again. It causes concern, because at the end of the day it was health-care workers and other people at the front of the vaccine line in Brandon, who are caused unnecessary stress and confusion.”

The province, via a spokesperson, admitted appointment reminder texts were sent with an incorrect address to 558 people with vaccination Monday appointments at the Keystone Centre.

“The human error was quickly addressed by a followup text. Government is conducting a review to ensure the service provider is held accountable and that the mistake does not occur again. People with appointments are asked to keep them as scheduled,” the spokesperson stated.

The Brandon site is set to deliver its vaccines as planned, two trays with 1,170 vaccines per tray. Both Robb and Boyce have appointments for their second mandated dose.

As for possible reopening plans after current critical code red public health orders expire Friday night, Dr. Brent Roussin said more information would be forthcoming later in the week.


The COVID-19 update from the province on Monday saw four additional deaths listed, none from the Prairie Mountain Health region.

The province reported 118 new cases, as follows:

• 11 cases in the Interlake–Eastern health region;

• 46 cases in the Northern health region;

• seven in the Prairie Mountain Health region;

• nine cases in the Southern Health–Santé Sud health region; and

• 45 cases in the Winnipeg health region.

The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate was 10.6 per cent in the province, and 7.3 per cent in Winnipeg.

Lab-confirmed cases in Manitoba total 27,629, with 773 deaths or 2.8 per cent.

The province reports 3,108 active cases, with 23,748 individuals who have recovered from COVID-19. The province has advised the active case count is less, and that number will better reflect the correct number soon.

The province also reported 135 people are in hospital with active COVID-19, as well as 154 people in hospital with COVID-19 who are no longer infectious but continue to require care, for a total of 289 hospitalizations.

Twenty-three people are in intensive care units with active COVID-19, as well as 12 people with COVID-19 who are no longer infectious but continue to require critical care, for a total of 35 ICU patients.

In the Prairie Mountain Health region, there are 203 active cases, with 1,567 recovered. There are 13 people hospitalized, with one patient in ICU, and a total of 43 deaths.

Brandon’s active case count is 66, with 821 recovered and 19 deaths.

On Thursday, 1,322 tests were completed, for a total of 453, 481 since February, 2020.

» Source: Province of Manitoba


As of Jan. 18, the status of COVID-19 outbreaks in Prairie Mountain Health were as follows:

• Brandon Correctional Centre: 108 total cases, 18 staff infected, 90 non-staff infected, one active case, 107 recovered, zero death.

• McCreary/Alonsa Health Centre: 43 total cases, 14 staff infected, 29 non-staff infected, 30 active cases, nine recovered, four deaths.

• Fairview Personal Care Home: 109 total cases, 41 staff infected, 68 non-staff infected, 0 active cases, 92 recovered, 17 deaths.

• Grandview Personal Care Home: 37 total cases, 12 staff infected, 25 residents infected, 0 active cases, 32 recovered, five deaths.

• St. Paul’s Personal Care Home: one total cases, one staff infected, 0 residents infected, one active case, 0 recovered, 0 deaths.

• Dauphin Regional Health Centre medicine unit: No information

Note: An outbreak is considered over one incubation period (14 days) after the final active case.

» Source: Province of Manitoba


To date, 17,751 doses of vaccine have been administered, including 15,607 first doses and 2,144 second doses.

Manitoba’s focused immunization teams continue to immunize residents at personal care homes across the province. First doses of the vaccine will now be given to all eligible residents by the end of January, more than a week ahead of initial projections. Last week, teams visited 10 personal care homes, and all consenting and eligible personal care home residents were immunized with their first dose. This week, residents at 51 personal care homes will be immunized throughout the province.

All new appointments were paused on Jan. 15 due to the uncertainty caused by the Pfizer vaccine supply disruption. However, Manitoba has revised its updated projections based on new forecasts received from the federal government detailing the revised vaccine delivery schedules.

Manitoba will release additional details on the next steps of its immunization campaign later this week.

» Source: Province of Manitoba

Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun