New Winnipeg supersite coming as Manitoba races to ramp up vaccinations ahead of 3rd wave
Manitoba supersites, clinics and immunization teams expected to reach 8,000 doses per day by end of April
Manitoba is in a race to vaccinate as many people as possible as the province enters its third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the medical lead of the government's vaccine implementation task force said Friday.
"The best way for us to prevent this third wave, or at least prevent it from being larger than it needs to be, is to have as many people immune as possible," Dr. Joss Reimer said at a news conference Friday.
She pointed to rising case numbers due to variants of concern in neighbouring Saskatchewan and Ontario, and said Manitoba's climbing case numbers suggest this province is in the beginning of a third COVID-19 wave.
Reimer encouraged all eligible people to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
"On top of thinking about your own eligibility, I ask you to think about your parents and your grandparents. Think about your friend who's getting chemo or your niece with a weak immune system, and imagine if they were to get COVID."
Manitoba's eligibility age for coronavirus vaccines has dropped to 60 and older and First Nations people 40 and older, on the same day the province announced Winnipeg will get a second vaccine supersite.
The province is working to ramp up the number shots given each day through its supersites, pop-up clinics and mobile immunization teams, which are currently averaging around 5,000 doses per day. By the end of the month, they're expected to deliver around 8,000 daily doses, in addition to shots given by First Nations, doctors and pharmacists.
WATCH | Manitoba in the beginning of its third wave, says Dr. Joss Reimer:
The new supersite is expected to open at the Winnipeg Soccer Federation's north facility, at 770 Leila Ave. in the Garden City neighbourhood, on May 7, the province said Friday. It will have a maximum daily capacity of 4,154 doses and will operate in addition to the existing site at the Winnipeg convention centre.
Its opening will bring the total number of supersites operating in Manitoba to six.
The province has said it plans to open as many as 13 supersites across the province. All five health regions currently have one supersite, and vaccine task force co-lead Johanu Botha said each health region will get at least one more.
The province plans two telephone town hall events next week to answer questions from Manitobans about the vaccine rollout. Members of the vaccine implementation task force, including Reimer and Botha, as well as Health Minister Heather Stefanson and Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin, will participate.
The first town hall, on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., will focus on remote and northern Manitoba. A second town hall, on Thursday at 6:30 p.m., will focus on Winnipeg.
'Slower pipes' needed
As of April 9, more than 259,840 doses of the coronavirus vaccines have been administered to Manitobans. That's a jump of more than 25,000 doses from the previous day, after a data backlog was cleared, task force members said during a technical briefing with reporters Friday morning.
Also as of Friday, 92,000 doses have been allocated to Manitoba's 63 First Nations and roughly 300 medical clinics and pharmacies. Another 55,217 doses have been booked, with appointments over the next 10 days.
Although the province could administer those booked doses faster than over 10 days, that speed would come at a cost, Botha said during a technical briefing with reporters Friday morning.
"If we took all of that and just pumped it though our supersites, we could be done in less than a week," he said.
A significant portion of those doses are going through "slower pipes," such as First Nations, mobile immunization teams and clinics, Botha said.
"If we wanted to race through 55,000 and just get doses in arms as quickly as possible, we could do that. The trade-off would be that Manitobans in remote, rural and vulnerable contexts, like congregate living facilities, would not be prioritized."
The province also updated its guidance to allow people 65 and older to get the AstraZeneca-Oxford shot. Previously, only people age 55 to 64 with certain high-risk health conditions were eligible.