Hundreds of parents, young people line up to get COVID-19 vaccines at Leila supersite walk-in

People started lining up outside the Leila Avenue vaccination supersite in Winnipeg Tuesday night in order to grab a Wednesday walk-in spot for a shot for people age 12 to 17.

330 walk-in spots available at the Winnipeg vaccination site for people 12-17 every day until Sunday

Hundreds of parents and young people wait outside the Leila Avenue vaccine supersite for a chance to get one of 330 walk-in shots for people age 12 to 17. (Ian Froese/CBC)

People started lining up outside the Leila Avenue vaccination supersite in Winnipeg Tuesday night in order to grab a Wednesday walk-in spot for a COVID-19 vaccine shot for people age 12 to 17.

By early Wednesday morning, hundreds of parents and teens were in line to get one of 330 tickets for a shot.

Shay Roy, a 17-year-old West Kildonan Collegiate student, arrived at 5 a.m. and estimated there were about 50 people ahead of him in line.

"I thought there'd be more, actually, so I was kind of happy with it," he said.

From Wednesday to Sunday, around 330 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — the only one currently approved in Canada for people age 12-17 — will be available each day for those in that age range at the Leila supersite. People in line will receive a colour-coded ticket for a time slot later in the day when they can get their vaccine.

Youth vaccines will be available between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. 

Jake Teakle, left, Shay Roy, centre, and Jerlein Gito, all West Kildonan Collegiate students, wait in line for a ticket to get a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at the Leila Avenue supersite on Wednesday. (Ian Froese/CBC)

Jake Teakle and Jerlein Gito — both going into Grade 12 next year at West Kildonan Collegiate — also arrived at 5 a.m., bearing McDonald's hotcakes, Timbits, drinks, an umbrella and blankets, prepared to wait hours for their ticket.

"We figured that there would be a lot of people here, because there's a high demand for Pfizer," Teakle said. "And since 12 to 17 can only get Pfizer, we figured we had to come early just to make sure we got it."

Gito said they wanted to get the shot so they'd be protected before they went to the cabin.

"We both have appointments later on, but we just wanted to get it as soon as possible," she said.

By 8:10 a.m., staff at the site started turning people away.

Many walked away frustrated, but not Elora Mitton. She took it in stride.

"I'll definitely come back tomorrow," she said. "However early we need to be. If I have to get up at 5:30, I'll get up at 5:30. It just means I have to go to bed earlier.

Her grandmother, Cathy Bamburak, said she'll gladly pick her granddaughter up for another early morning in line.

"It's very early to get a teenager up to make her get a needle in her arm," she said, chuckling.

Cathy Bamburak brought her granddaughter, Elora Mitton, to a walk-in vaccine clinic for youth at the Leila supersite in Winnipeg, but they missed out on Wednesday. Mitton said she'll try again Thursday. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

Last week, the provincial government announced it would be making few appointments for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — the only vaccine approved for those under 18 — after learning Manitoba would receive less than half of the doses expected in the first week of July.

All supersites are now booking Pfizer appointments for the end of July. A limited number of walk-in appointments are available at all Manitoba supersites, except the RBC Convention Centre in Winnipeg. The number of walk-ins may vary by day and by site, but are approximately 10 per cent of all doses available.

The province is aiming to have at least 75 per cent of eligible people 12 and older vaccinated with a first dose, and 50 per cent with a second dose, by Aug. 2 — Terry Fox Day in Manitoba. If it reaches that goal, it will proceed with the second phase of its reopening plan, allowing businesses to increase capacity to 50 per cent.

With files from Ian Froese and Cameron MacLean