All Manitoba adults eligible to book COVID-19 vaccine today
Over 46% of Manitoban adults have received at least 1 dose
Manitoba has expanded eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine to everyone 18 and up, beating its original target date by a week.
"This is what we've been waiting for. This is what we've been looking forward to announcing for quite some time — the opportunity for all adults in Manitoba to protect ourselves and protect each other," Dr. Joss Reimer, the medical lead of the task force, said on Wednesday.
All adults can now book appointments at immunization supersites and pop-up clinics.
However, the province is pausing administration of first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine for most Manitobans, Reimer said, citing supply issues and recent news about the vaccine.
Over 46 per cent of Manitoba adults have already received at least one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines.
Age eligibility has dropped rapidly in the past two weeks, with anyone 24 and up becoming eligible Tuesday and everyone 30 and up on Monday.
People who are immunocompromised will be prioritized for second doses. They'll be able to book those by May 22, Reimer said Wednesday.
That includes people receiving dialysis, those with Down syndrome, anyone who has received or is on the list for an organ transplant, those who are actively receiving chemotherapy for cancer and people with HIV. A full list of those who will be eligible for the second dose first is on the province's website
People who can't line up child care during their vaccine appointment are welcome to bring their kids along, vaccine task force operations lead Johanu Botha said on Wednesday, responding to concerns raised because of the move to remote learning in Manitoba on Wednesday.
Surge in vaccine supply
An increase in vaccine supply, largely of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, allowed Manitoba to release marginally improved timelines for the projected completion of the first dose campaign Wednesday.
The hope is at least 70 per cent of Manitobans 12 and up will receive at least one dose by June 6-9, depending on vaccine supply. Previously the timeline to meet that goal was by June 11-15.
Public health officials said last week that they are planning for vaccination of 12- to 17-year-olds with Pfizer and they will likely become eligible by May 21.
"We will open up to age 12 and above as soon as our booking team tells us that we have appointments available to book," Reimer said.
"From the clinical side, there's nothing holding us back from opening up. It's really coming down to a supply issue."
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It's quite a large cohort to plan for, Botha said, estimating there are roughly 100,000 people in the 12-17 age group.
The supply surge also means eligible Manitobans will receive second doses much more quickly — the plan is that will happen by the end of July.
"The second dose campaign is exciting. It will be shorter," Botha said.
Apology to transgender people
Reimer also apologized Wednesday to Manitobans who identify as transgender for "wrong, inappropriate and disrespectful" wording related to a question about gender on the vaccine consent form.
There are three boxes that can picked when designating sex: male, female and X.
"We should have done better before and we need to do better going forward, so I want to apologize for our error," Reimer said.
To make an appointment at a supersite or pop-up clinic, use the province's online booking portal, or call 1-844-626-8222.
With files from Darren Bernhardt