The Manitoba government is expanding eligibility for COVID-19 immunizers and plans to be able to deliver 20,000 shots a day by April.
Members of the province’s vaccine task force said Wednesday that changes to the Regulated Health Professions Act will add athletic therapists, chiropractors, dental hygienists, massage therapists, and optometrists to the list of those qualified to give the shot.
The move means 17 different professions can now administer the coronavirus vaccine.
“The number of vaccine doses delivered to Manitoba by the federal government so far is only a tiny fraction of what we will need in the coming months to protect Manitobans,” said Health and Seniors Care Minister Heather Stefanson, in a government release.
“Today we are expanding the number of people permitted to administer vaccines, so that when those vaccines are delivered to our province, I have been assured that we will be ready to mobilize our plan to vaccinate up to 20,000 Manitobans a day.”
During a technical briefing with media held earlier in the day, health officials said the province right now has 1,457 immunizers on staff, more than are needed with vaccine deliveries from the federal government currently stalled.
That means the province isn’t recruiting from the expanded list of immunizers yet, but officials say they’ll be working with professional associations on next steps.
The province says as more vaccine becomes available it’s planning to be able to deliver up to 20,000 shots a day at supersites around the province, through mobile immunization teams, and eventually at doctor’s offices and pharmacies.
Manitoba’s current capacity is 7,499 doses per day, the province says.
To date, 50,554 doses of vaccine have been administered in Manitoba, including 33,930 first doses and 16,624 second doses, according to provincial data.
Since January 66,090 doses of vaccine have been delivered to Manitoba, including 43,290 doses of Pfizer vaccine, and 22,800 doses of the Moderna vaccine.
The province said Wednesday it expects to receive 3,510 doses of Pfizer this week and another 15,210 doses next week.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
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