Roughly 900 health-care workers to receive first Manitoba COVID-19 vaccines as early as next week

Health-care workers in critical care units will be the first people in Manitoba to receive the COVID-19 vaccine once the first doses — enough for about 900 people — arrive in the province next week, Premier Brian Pallister says.

'We're ready,' says chief public health officer, announcing critical-care unit staff will get first doses

A nurse holds a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which Health Canada announced it has approved on Wednesday morning. The vaccine will be available to Manitoba health-care workers in critical care units as early as next week, officials say. (Frank Augstein/Pool photo/The Associated Press)

Health-care workers in critical-care units will be the first in Manitoba to get the COVID-19 vaccine once initial doses — enough for about 900 people — arrive in the province next week, Premier Brian Pallister says.

Manitoba is set to receive its first 1,950 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which requires two doses to be given 21 days apart, Pallister said at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon.

That announcement came hours after Health Canada said it had approved the vaccine, following a two-month review of the company's clinical trial data.

More vaccine shipments to Manitoba are expected to arrive in late December or early January, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said at the news conference. 

WATCH | Pallister on initial vaccine distribution:

Pallister on COVID-19 vaccine rollout

2 years ago
Duration 2:01
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be limited and reserved for priority groups like critical care workers, so people will need to stay vigilant and keep following public health rules in the meantime.

"Manitoba is about to embark on a vaccine campaign that will likely be a unique one in all of our lifetimes," he said.

"This is an enormous undertaking, when you consider all the details, big and small, that must go into these type of plans: storage, delivery, other logistical challenges. But we're ready."

By the end of March, Roussin said, Manitoba is expected to receive 237,600 doses of COVID-19 vaccine — between the one from Pfizer-BioNTech and another from Moderna, which Health Canada is currently reviewing.

That will be enough to vaccinate more than 100,000 people, or roughly seven per cent of Manitoba's population, he said.

The number of vaccine doses provided to each province and territory is based on a federal per capita allocation. 

Pallister said Manitoba has been notified it will also receive an additional 9,600 doses of vaccine from the federal government in the first quarter of 2021 to provide broader access for Indigenous people in remote and isolated communities.

Planning to administer that will be informed by consultation with the Manitoba First Nations Pandemic Response Co-ordination Team, the province said in a news release. 

'Prioritization decisions' necessary: premier

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization, an independent committee in charge of deciding who should be the first Canadians to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, has recommended that four priority groups be first in line.

The groups it identified are health-care workers most directly involved in COVID-19 response, seniors in congregate living settings, people age 80 or older, and adults at risk in remote or isolated Indigenous communities.

Pallister on Wednesday urged people to be patient, keep following public health orders and keep in mind that it will likely take some time before the vaccine is available to everyone.

"We can't give everybody the vaccine at the same time. We're going to have to make some prioritization decisions," he said.

"I know Manitobans understand that, but I know also how emotional this is for many families who really want this vaccine for their mom, their dad, their grandma, their grandpa right now."

Health-care workers to receive first Manitoba COVID-19 vaccines

2 years ago
Duration 1:55
Health-care workers in critical-care units will be the first in Manitoba to get the COVID-19 vaccine once initial doses — enough for about 900 people — arrive in the province next week, Premier Brian Pallister says.

Winnipeg's first temporary immunization clinic is now ready, with more fixed vaccination sites planned to open in the capital city as well as in Brandon, Thompson, Steinbach, Gimli, Portage la Prairie and The Pas over the next three months, the province said.

Manitoba has also accessed more than 60 freezers to store the vaccine doses, and is expected to be able to safely store more than 1.8 million doses by January. Dry ice and other related supplies have also been secured.

The province will also soon start recruiting people to join Manitoba's vaccine response team, including clinic managers, immunization clinical leaders, immunization team members, clinic navigators and post-immunization observation team members, the release says.

Retired doctors, nurses and other health-care workers, and medical and nursing students will be encouraged to become vaccinators.

The province is partnering with Red River College to make sure people hired to administer the COVID-19 vaccine can upgrade or extend their existing skills to safely immunize people, under clinical supervision.

Those hired to work in immunization clinics will get appropriate personal protective equipment — and once more vaccines become available, people giving the COVID-19 vaccine will be prioritized to get it themselves, the release says.

Roussin said the vaccine's first doses could be injected into Manitobans' arms as early as next week, but some priority groups (such as remote northern First Nations) might have to wait longer.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine needs to be stored in a freezer at –80 C to –60 C or in a thermal container at –90 C to –60 C, which presents logistical challenges for distributing the vaccine in remote areas. 

Canada is prepared to receive enough doses to vaccinate up to three million people within the first three months of 2021. That will include doses of the Moderna vaccine, which must be stored at –20 C, making it easier to distribute. 

Roussin said the province has not contemplated making the vaccine mandatory, and stressed that you can't get the illness from the immunization.

"You cannot get COVID from these vaccines. There is zero risk for that."

Manitoba will need to have well over 60 per cent of its population vaccinated to start seeing the effects of herd immunity, he said.

WATCH | Full news conference on COVID-19 | Dec. 8, 2020:

Manitoba government daily briefing on coronavirus: Dec. 9

2 years ago
Duration 1:00:28
Provincial officials give update on COVID-19 outbreak: Wednesday, December 9, 2020.


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