Manitoba plans to roll out vaccine by age, starting with oldest residents in March
No separate category for essential workers, people with severe health conditions
Manitobans got their first look at the timeline showing when every adult in the province will get a chance to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and for most that date is still months away.
Older adults living in the community could start getting vaccinated by March, while those in the youngest age category will have to wait until the fall or later, members of Manitoba's vaccine task force announced Monday.
"I know that Manitobans are anxious to be eligible," said Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead for the task force.
"I know I've spoken to my own grandma, who's 93 and living in an assisted living facility, and she can't wait to be eligible, so I'm excited that she gets to see this list today."
More details about the priority groups and timelines for expanding access to the vaccine were unveiled during a technical briefing Wednesday.
The plan would start with those older than 95, then move down in one-year increments.
The next groups in line to become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine include all health-care workers who weren't in the initial rollout, and staff and residents in congregate living settings considered at high or moderate risk.
A full list of which facilities will be prioritized will be released soon. The list will factor in the age of people living there, their health or cognitive status, the structure of facility (e.g. are people living in shared rooms?), and the income of residents.
Immunization teams that are expected to finish vaccinations at all remaining personal care homes this week will next head to long-stay hospitals and supportive housing facilities, followed by correctional facilities, homeless shelters and transitional housing facilities, starting by the first week of February.
The timelines for when different groups become eligible for the vaccine vary depending on supply volume. Under the province's high-supply scenario, Manitobans in the youngest age category — 18 to 29 — could start getting vaccinated by the end of August.
That scenario assumes 70 per cent uptake among eligible groups, with 700,000 doses of currently unapproved product arriving in the third quarter.
Under the low supply scenario, which assumes no new products are approved in Canada, Manitobans over 80 will still start getting vaccinated in March, but people in the youngest age group won't become eligible until October.
WATCH | Dr. Joss Reimer on vaccine prioritization lists
Once vaccines become available to the general population, appointments will be booked using the call centre currently used by front-line health workers, as well as an online booking form.
The province plans to launch an online calculator that will give Manitobans an estimated date when they could expect to get their vaccine.
Essential workers not included
Currently, only front-line health-care workers providing direct patient care in high-risk settings like critical care units, residents and staff of personal care homes, and people at risk living in First Nations communities are getting shots.
No details were released about whether or which essential workers will get priority access. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead for the task force, said consultations with stakeholders will take place over the next couple of months before a decision is made.
"I would love to offer to every Manitoban the opportunity to get vaccinated today. What we're doing is we're basing our decisions on the science that we have in front of us," Reimer said.
Further consultations and analysis will look at workplace safety as well as health and epidemiologic factors to determine whether any groups of essential workers will be included. Those workers would be eligible by age if they are included, Reimer said.
WATCH | 'I would love to offer to every Manitoban the opportunity to get vaccinated today'
The province also did not specifically include a separate category for people with compromised immune systems or other underlying health conditions living in the wider community.
"There's no approach that's going to capture Manitobans in a perfect order of their risks of having severe outcomes, but what we've done is we've looked at the studies that exist and they've consistently shown that the age-based approach captures the best proportion [of high-risk people]," Reimer said.
She added that "nothing is set in stone" and the team will review the priority list regularly as the science on the vaccines evolves and they learn more about future supplies.
The province had planned to release this information last week, before shipment delays forced them to change course.
Health Minister Heather Stefanson said there is "no playbook" for how a vaccine rollout on this scale should work, and said the province is committed to providing as much information as possible as soon as they receive it.
"Maybe we have been a little too cautious in getting out information, but when situations are changing day to day, and in the case of vaccine supplies, some times hour by hour, we wanted to make sure we had all the questions answered before releasing the information.
"I realize now that we can't wait for perfection, so we will provide as much information as possible as soon as we can, recognizing, of course, that things will change," Stefanson said.
WATCH | No 'playbook' to follow for vaccine rollout: Stefanson
Expanding into rural Manitoba
Starting Feb. 8, the province will launch a limited number of regional vaccination hubs, starting with clinics in Flin Flon and The Pas. Consultations with communities and the health regions are happening to determine the exact location of future sites.
The clinics in Flin Flon and The Pas were added after consultations with the Northern Health Region, in order to augment the capacity of the supersite opening in Thompson on Feb. 1.
Two more supersites are being planned for the Interlake-Eastern and Southern health regions and will be ready to launch March 1, although whether they open their doors on that date will depend on Manitoba receiving adequate supplies of vaccines, Reimer said.
Based on current estimates, the provincial government says Manitoba ranks third among the provinces in terms of getting people their second dose of the vaccines currently approved in Canada, behind Ontario and Prince Edward Island. Both vaccines require a second dose.
WATCH | Full news conference on COVID-19 | Jan. 27, 2021: