Manitoba aims to be ready to deliver 1.5M vaccines from April to June

Manitoba hopes to provide 20,000 COVID-19 vaccine shots per day from April to June, says Johanu Botha, co-lead of the province’s vaccine implementation task force.

In total, that would amount to 1.5 million doses in those three months, he said Wednesday — but all of it hinges on vaccine supply.

“That does remain the limiting factor,” he said. “But our goal is to be prepared for the full amount of vaccine coming our way, regardless of how supply chain volatility affects how and when it arrives.”

Vaccine supersites will deliver about 70 per cent of the daily doses, while about 25 per cent will be delivered by doctors and pharmacists and another five per cent by pop-up clinics.

“This is a massive team effort,” Botha said.

Getting doctors and pharmacists involved, however, is dependent on new vaccines that don’t need the same extreme storage requirements as the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which require ultra-low-temperature freezers.

So far, there are no confirmed timelines for those more stable vaccines, such as Astra Zeneca, the province said.

To date, 43,318 doses of vaccine have been administered in Manitoba, including 32,852 first doses and 10,466 second doses. 

More supersites

The Thompson Vaxport supersite will be ready to open Feb. 8, but will not begin providing immunizations until vaccine supply issues are resolved.

Once it is functional, it will add a fourth supersite to the province’s list. There are already supersites at the Thompson Regional Community Centre, in Brandon at the Keystone Centre and in Winnipeg at the convention centre.

Three more will be launched as early as March 1 — one in the Interlake-Eastern health region, one in the Southern Health region and one in the Winnipeg health region.

The exact opening date for the two latter sites depends on the availability of vaccine supply, the province said.

As well, the convention centre site in Winnipeg will be ready to expand and a second “warm” site — able to deliver vaccines that don’t require ultra-cold storage — can be activated with a day’s notice, officials said.

Another five supersites are being planned for April. The location of those sites must still be determined in collaboration with regional health authorities.

Pop-up vaccine clinics are opening Feb. 8 in Flin Flon and The Pas but all first-dose appointments available have already been booked.

In the coming weeks, more pop-ups are planned for Churchill, Gillam, Lynn Lake, Leaf Rapids and Grand Rapids.

Eligible First Nations health-care workers are now invited to make an appointment at a pop-up site that will launch in Winnipeg next week.

Those people would have already received booking information from their employer and can begin calling anytime. As announced on Feb. 1, eligibility criteria for these appointments include:

  • Health-care workers in non-remote First Nations communities, including health-care workers with direct patient/ client interaction, such as doctors, nurses, health-care aides, home care workers, medical transportation drivers, and other direct service providers.
  • First Nations alternative isolation accommodation workers at sites managed or supported by First Nations organizations.
  • Traditional healers and knowledge keepers, as they play a key role as part of the health workforce, to ensure those who did not meet the age criteria or who live off-reserve can also access vaccination if they choose.

A total of 11,800 doses has been allocated to immunize First Nations priority populations.

Despite vaccine supply disruptions, all willing and eligible residents in Manitoba’s 125 personal care homes have been given the first dose of vaccine and mobile immunization teams began this week to immunize patients in supportive housing and those in hospital waiting for personal care home placements.

The second doses are to be delivered to all personal care homes before the end of February, the province said on Wednesday.

Appointments and bookings

To deal with the frustrations reported by people trying to book vaccine appointments, the province has made some improvements, officials said.

Available call lines have increased tenfold since December and there is now a call-back option to reduce the time people spend on the phone waiting for an agent.

An additional 892 staff have been assigned to COVID-19 immunization efforts from regional health authorities, bringing the total of new hires and existing staff to 2,292.

As more vaccine arrives in Manitoba, extra staff will continue to be hired to expand service, the province said.

The province is also looking to have an online booking tool ready for the start of April, Botha said.

In the past week, the three operating supersites administered 6,333 doses (5,732 in Winnipeg, 481 in Brandon and 120 in Thompson, which opened Monday).

In total, since opening, the Winnipeg supersite has administered 23,803 doses and the Brandon site has administered 1,965. That equates to a daily average of 820 and 151 doses, respectively.

Provincial officials say the current daily maximum vaccine capacity, with existing supersites, mobile teams and pop-up clinics, is 7,097 shots a day. But there is not even enough vaccine to hit that mark.

It is hoping, based on supply projections, that it can average 1,183 injections per day in February. That amount is several hundred fewer than the previously-anticipated amount of 1,475 a day.

The following chart shows the amount of daily vaccine doses already administered since Jan. 31 and the amount projected to be administered by the end of February.

(Government of Manitoba)

There is a blank Feb. 15-17, where the province expects to run out of doses due to the ongoing supply disruptions.

The following chart lists groups by priority for vaccination and when they should expect to be immunized, based on a low-supply scenario of vaccine availability.

(Government of Manitoba)

This chart shows immunization schedules based on a high-supply scenario of vaccine availability. It includes 700,000 as-of-yet unapproved vaccine doses:

(Government of Manitoba)

The timelines depend on vaccine supplies provided by the federal government.