All adult Manitobans could get 1st dose of vaccine by May 18
1st vaccinations could take until end of June if supplies don't arrive steadily throughout 2nd quarter
Every eligible Manitoban could get a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine by May 18 after the province decided to delay second doses, officials announced Friday.
That timeline assumes vaccine shipments arrive steadily throughout the second quarter.
Under less ideal circumstances, in which the bulk of vaccine shipments arrive later in the spring, Manitoba projects it still could vaccinate every adult Manitoban against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 by the end of June.
"We're confident that we can do this, if the supply arrives more consistently," said Johanu Botha, co-lead on the task force, during a technical briefing on Friday.
This significantly shortens the timeline for administering the vaccine. Previous projections had the province vaccinating the youngest cohort of eligible Manitobans, those 18 to 29, by the end of August at the earliest.
WATCH | Dr. Joss Reimer 'optimistic' province could offer vaccine to all adult Manitobans by end of June:
Starting today, Manitoba will stop booking second-dose appointments.
Manitoba made the decision to delay second doses after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization said Wednesday that in the context of a limited vaccine supply, it now recommends extending the interval between doses to four months.
Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead on the vaccine task force, said evidence from other provinces in Canada, such as British Columbia, as well as other countries, such as the United Kingdom and Israel, have shown that immune responses to the first dose are strong.
"But we'll be watching the evidence to see if that continues to be safe or if there's any evidence that people's immunity is decreasing," she said.
"Likewise, we'll be watching to see whether the second dose might be more effective if we wait a longer time. We have seen that in other vaccines, even in the AstraZeneca trial."
People who already have an appointment for their second vaccine dose will be able to keep it. Once Manitoba has finished vaccinating everyone with a first dose, health officials will announce when people can book their second-dose appointments.
The exact length of time between doses will depend on the pace of shipments received through the federal government, she said.
"We have no intention of slowing down or shutting our clinics down but rather would move on to dose two as soon as we can, unless there's some data showing us that there's a health benefit for Manitobans to continue to delay the second dose."
WATCH | Dr. Reimer on what delaying 2nd doses of COVID-19 vaccines means for Manitoba's rollout:
Also starting today, Manitobans can book appointments for more than one person when they call to schedule their shots. For example, this will allow spouses to book appointments at the same time, as long as they are both eligible.
The age of eligibility for vaccinations has dropped again. Now all Manitobans 87 and older and First Nations people 67 and older can book appointments.
New vaccines coming
Health Canada has approved a fourth vaccine, this one from Johnson & Johnson, but Botha said that did not factor into Manitoba's adjusted timelines because the province still doesn't know how many doses of the new vaccine it will get or when.
Manitoba expects to receive around 18,000 doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine by the end of next week. That vaccine will be distributed through doctor's offices and pharmacies.
Health Canada announced last week that it had approved the vaccine. After the announcement, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization released guidelines recommending the vaccine not be used for people 65 and older.
WATCH | Winnipeggers react to the news of new timelines:
Earlier this week, Reimer said Manitobans age 50 to 64 with health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 will be prioritized for the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Reimer asked Manitobans not to call their doctors and pharmacists to book an appointment yet.
"We want to give them that time to create their own plans about how they'll be scheduling appointments and whether or not they'll be reaching out to their patient populations, or whether they'll be setting up a system for patients to call in and book their own appointment," she said.
Pharmacists and physicians who have registered to administer the vaccine will get a list of priority health conditions as early as Friday, Reimer said. That list will be released to the public sometime next week
- A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Health Canada had approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for people under 65. The vaccine was approved by Health Canada for all adults, but the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended against using it for people 65 and older.Mar 05, 2021 1:57 PM CT
With files from Bryce Hoye