Vaccine appointments may be postponed

·4 min read

If supplies of COVID-19 Pfizer vaccines to Manitoba don’t resume, appointments at the Brandon vaccination supersite may need to be postponed.

That’s according to Dr. Joss Reimer, a member of the province’s vaccination task force, who joined Dr. Brent Roussin for the daily COVID-19 update on Monday.

"As you already know, last week, we were informed about a third reduction in our Pfizer vaccine shipments. Manitoba has been responsible in managing our vaccine supply, but we continue to see the effects of the supply reductions," said Reimer.

The planned Feb. 1 supply dropped from 5,850 to 2,340 doses.

"We had to stop making appointments for the supersites, both in Winnipeg and in Brandon. So far, we’ve been able to weather the supply disruptions better than most other jurisdictions based on the strategic approach that Manitoba has taken. However, we’re now in a position where we’re still concerned about ongoing supply and may have to postpone some of our appointments if the supplies don’t resume.

Reimer said the province will receive an update from the federal government — which is responsible for vaccine deployment to provinces and territories — on Friday.

The postponement decision will depend on what the province receives from the federal government on Feb. 8.

"We will update Manitobans as soon as possible, most likely on Friday, to let them know if we are expecting that shipment to come in and what the implications are for people who have appointments coming up beginning next week," said Reimer.

"We are going to be contacting everybody who has an appointment coming up to let them know about this unknown, as well. So, for now, we’re asking people to plan to keep their appointments for next week and the week after, but to keep your eye on the bulletins and on the website."

As for the Northern health region, which has seen half of Manitoba’s new case counts, vaccines are headed up. Reimer said the phone line opened Monday morning to book appointments for the supersite in Thompson. Immunizers will begin putting needles in arms beginning Feb. 1.

"This is a slight adjustment from our original plan because instead of using Pfizer, we’re using Moderna temporarily in Thompson," said Reimer.

"Also building on feedback from the Northern health region, we will be scheduling appointments for eligible workers in The Pas and Flin Flon for the week of Feb. 8."

Vaccination teams are on track to complete first doses at personal care homes by the end of this week — a week ahead of schedule — with enough doses to deliver a second round beginning the following week.

The province also plans to release a priority list of all Manitobans Wednesday, with a tentative schedule for the entire vaccine rollout, which will depend on vaccine supply.

"The dates that will be attached to that list will have to remain quite fluid because we still don’t know exactly when to expect the Pfizer numbers to change. But we will come up with at least the sequence for Manitobans," said Reimer.

Reimer said, so far, there is a 70 to 80 per cent uptake in eligible health-care workers. She said there are various reasons some are taking the vaccine, including having health conditions, such as autoimmune conditions. That made them ineligible until the enhanced process was put in place.

"Some people may have other health conditions or allergies that made them concerned and want to seek some opinion from their health-care provider before booking an appointment. Those folks may be in the process right now of discussing with their health-care provider whether or not the vaccine is the right decision," said Reimer.

"We’ve also heard of health-care providers who wanted to let other people go first. They felt that their exposure or their own health status was such that they didn’t want to take up an appointment, when there’s other people who might be at higher risk because of their own health, their age."

Reimer added 70 to 80 per cent is a high uptake rate for an immunization campaign.

In personal care homes so far, the uptake is more than 90 per cent.

Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun