Sharp drop projected in COVID-19 vaccine demand but still on target for September goal: Manitoba officials

Manitoba is projecting a steep drop in demand for vaccines next month, though officials still believe the province will meet a Labour Day immunization target tied to further relaxing restrictions.

That’s according to a technical briefing document released by the province Wednesday morning that shows a stark decline in the number of daily doses that are expected to be administered in August.

Officials still believe enough Manitobans will get their first or second doses ahead of Labour Day weekend in September to trigger the next round of reopenings, relaxed capacity rules and guidelines around gatherings.

“We believe this target is absolutely achievable, it’s within reach — it could be within reach quite soon as long as we all show up and roll up our sleeves,” Johanu Botha, operations lead for the task force, said during a Wednesday afternoon news conference.

“We’re still in the fight.” 

The September goal is tied to seeing 80 per cent of eligible Manitobans vaccinated with their first dose and 75 with a second dose.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 77.9 per cent of Manitobans 12 and up have received one COVID-19 vaccine dose, and 63.1 per cent have received two doses.

Reaching the Labour Day target is, however, subject to changes in demand for vaccines, according to the province.

Botha said to reach the goal, another 12,000 people have to get their first doses and 60,000 more need to get their second doses, in addition to the thousands of appointments already currently scheduled.

WATCH | Manitoba needs 12,000 more people to book 1st dose appointments, head to walk-ins:

Johanu Botha, operations lead for Manitoba’s COVID-19 vaccine task force, said Wednesday another 12,000 Manitobans have to get their first doses and 60,000 more need to get their second doses by Labour Day for the province to hit its next vaccine targets. 1:18

Provincial projections suggest Manitoba demand for vaccines will continue to grow this month, primarily for second doses. Total daily projected doses in arms are pegged at nearly 15,000 on Wednesday and could climb as high as almost 25,000 on July 30, according to Wednesday’s briefing document.

But in the first 10 days or so of August, the number of daily doses given is expected to plummet to between around 1,000 and 6,000, according to the province.

That anticipated drop in demand mirrors a drop in confirmed dose shipments from the federal government.

Manitoba is expecting a total of 147,000 doses of Pfizer the week of July 26, followed by about 90,000 each of the following two weeks. From the middle of August, no Pfizer shipments are yet confirmed, and there are no confirmed shipments of Moderna or other vaccine brands confirmed for the remainder of the month.

Botha said the province is mulling the possibility of phasing out some vaccination supersites later next month, depending on changes in demand.

Mixing OK, but try to stick with same vaccine: Reimer

Vaccine task force medical lead Dr. Joss Reimer also said now that Manitoba is flush with vaccine doses, there is enough for Manitobans to get the same vaccine for their second dose as they did for their first.

Previously, due to a shortage in Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and a move away from giving out AstraZeneca as first doses, Reimer advised Manitobans to get whichever second dose they could access first, even if it meant mixing different kinds.

Mixing vaccine brands remains safe, Reimer said Wednesday, and those who can’t get easy access to the same shot they got first should still feel confident getting something else as their second.

Reimer also urged parents who want their kids to be fully vaccinated before school resumes in September to book their first-dose appointments. Being fully vaccinated for the start of the school year would require getting a first shot no later than next Tuesday, she said.

Manitobans need to wait a minimum of 28 days between their first and second doses.

The earliest anyone would be eligible for their second dose, if they got their first on July 27, would be Aug. 24. It takes at least two weeks for the body to build maximum immunity after a second dose.

WATCH | Parents should book kids’ 1st dose by July 27 to be fully vaccinated by return to school:

Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of Manitoba’s vaccine task force, said children aged 12-17 should have their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by July 27 in order to allow enough time between first and second doses, as well as enough time after the second dose, before school starts up again in the fall. 0:45

Still expected to hit Labour Day goal: province

The latest update comes days after businesses and attractions like movie theatres, museums and more were allowed to reopen for the first time since fall, and a series of businesses that were already open were permitted to increase capacity limits.

All sectors are now essentially reopen, with capacity limits still in place.

Gathering sizes also increased as of last Saturday, allowing up to five visitors indoors at private residences, not including members of the household, and up to 25 outdoors on private property.

The changes came nearly a month ahead of the province’s original schedule. Manitoba’s three-stage reopening plan was initially tied to a range of vaccine uptake targets for Canada Day in July, Terry Fox Day on Aug. 2 and Labour Day in September.

Fully vaccinated Manitobans now enjoy a range of privileges, including being allowed to go to movies and museums, and being able to dine indoors at restaurants with other fully immunized people from outside their households. 

Those who get their first dose by Aug. 2 and second dose by Sept. 6 are also automatically entered to win $100,000 in the province’s vaccination lottery.

To book an appointment, visit the province’s vaccine website or call 1-844-626-8222.