COVID-19 vaccination appointments open Saturday for eligible Manitoba health-care workers

Eligible health-care workers in Manitoba can start making appointments to receive the recently approved COVID-19 vaccine as of Saturday.

Long-term, critical-care workers over age 60, staff in critical-care units over age 50 are currently eligible

Some Manitoba health-care workers will be able to book appointments to get the first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Saturday at noon. Eligibility for the first doses is based on age and the type of work the health-care workers do. (Frank Augstein/The Associated Press)

Eligible health-care workers in Manitoba can start making appointments to receive the recently approved COVID-19 vaccine as of Saturday.

To be eligible for the first round of vaccine doses, health-care workers must must work in direct contact with patients and meet additional criteria, according to a memo from Manitoba's Vaccine Implementation Task Force issued late Friday.

They'll be able to start booking appointments as of noon Saturday, by calling to book an appointment. Those appointments will start as soon as Wednesday, Dec. 16, the province said.

Eligible health care workers received information on Friday to explain how to book an appointment by phone, according to a Saturday news release from the province.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved for use by Health Canada earlier this week. The province had previously announced that around 900 critical-care workers will receive Manitoba's initial doses of the vaccine.

Those who are eligible work in critical-care units and were born on or before Dec. 31, 1970; work in acute care and long-term care facilities and were born on or before Dec. 31, 1960; or are assigned to COVID-19 immunization clinics, the province's release says.

According to the memo, there are limited supplies of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the first round — only enough to vaccinate around 900 people.

Premier Brian Pallister said in the Saturday news release that the province worked with the task force to identify who should receive the immunization first.

"By protecting Manitoba's health-care workers, we are helping to protect our entire health-care system and the patients they care for," he said.

"We know it will take time for every Manitoban to be immunized, but we are ready to make that happen as quickly and safely as possible."

Vaccinations will take place at the University of Manitoba Rady Faculty of Health Sciences campus on McDermot Avenue in Winnipeg, for those who meet the criteria and are able to travel to the location.

Appointments will be made on a first-come, first-served basis from Wednesday to Friday next week, according to the province's memo.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires two doses. When they call, health workers will also be booked for a second appointment, the province's Saturday news release said.

Those who are vaccinated in the coming week can expect to have a second dose in the first week of January, according to the province's memo.