Manitoba will shift COVID-19 vaccination focus to clinics over supersites as demand for shots drops
'This is more of a ramping out than a ramping down,' vaccination task force logistics lead says
The province's COVID-19 vaccine task force is planning to shift its focus away from vaccination supersites and invest more time and doses in pop-up clinics and other forms of outreach, as demand for shots is expected to drop significantly next week.
Johanu Botha, the task force's operations and logistics lead, said the province now has enough doses to vaccinate everyone who wants a shot, so the task force will concentrate on making vaccines more accessible.
"This is more of a ramping out than a ramping down," he said during a news conference Wednesday with Dr. Joss Reimer, the medical lead of the task force.
The province is expecting a significant drop in demand for COVID-19 vaccine doses next week, according to its latest weekly report on Manitoba's immunization effort.
That document released Wednesday morning shows the projected number of doses plummeting from more than 133,000 this week to around 24,000 next week.
However, it doesn't take into account doses given out at pharmacies and doctors offices.
A drop in doses expected to be delivered at supersites accounts for most of the projected decline. Officials expect at least 88,679 doses to be delivered at those sites for the week of July 26 to Aug. 1, but only around 19,500 during the week of Aug. 2-8.
Focus on community clinics
Botha said the task force recognizes that supersites are not very accessible for some Manitobans, which is why they are planning to focus on facilitating more clinics led by community organizations, such as those held by the North End Women's Centre.
So far, about 40,000 doses have been delivered through these clinics, with close to 8,000 first doses delivered last week alone, he said.
Botha says the task force expects to deliver the same amount of first doses this week as well.
"These are integral dose ones for people who may have had a barrier to reaching a supersite or one of our pop-ups."
As of Wednesday, 79.1 per cent of Manitobans had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 67.8 per cent had two doses, according to provincial data.
The province still expects to reach its target of getting 80 per cent of Manitobans vaccinated with one dose and 75 per cent with two by Labour Day, the latest weekly vaccination report says.
It also says Manitoba is on track to have more than 80 per cent of people in the province fully vaccinated by the end of September, subject to demand.
To reach the Labour Day target, Manitoba has to administer about 4,000 more first doses and 40,000 more second doses, Botha said
Botha said that while demand for appointments may be down, the number of vaccines being administered each day has remained steady over the last couple of weeks.
WATCH | Vaccine booking habits changing but not stalling: Johanu Botha
As of last weekend, the RBC Convention Centre vaccination supersite in Winnipeg started offering walk-in immunizations every day from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. It will continue offering walk-ins until the end of July.
In an interview with CBC on Tuesday, Reimer said the province must reach a minimum of vaccinating 80 per cent of eligible people to achieve herd immunity, though that number may be higher due to more contagious variants of the coronavirus.
The province also reported a five-day test positivity rate of 2.5 per cent on Wednesday — the lowest the provincial rate has been since Oct. 7 of last year.
In Winnipeg, the positivity rate was 1.3 per cent, also the lowest number since last October, when the province started including the Winnipeg test positivity rate in its daily updates.
The province reported 26 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday and three more deaths from the illness.