Manitoba plans to start vaccinating people age 95 and older next week
2 new supersites announced for Selkirk, Morden-Winkler area
Manitoba's eldest residents can expect to start receiving COVID-19 vaccines, and two new large vaccination centres are preparing to open, as provincial health officials ramp up immunizations after weeks of uncertain supplies.
People age 95 and older will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination starting next week, the province's vaccine task force announced Wednesday.
"I know that this is something that many Manitobans are looking forward to for themselves and for their loved ones, and so I am looking forward to being able to announce next week that we will be opening up to elderly Manitobans," said Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead for the task force.
Reimer cautioned that people in the 95 and up age group can't yet book an appointment. That will happen next week, she said.
"We don't normally announce ahead of time that people will become eligible, in part because we don't want people to start calling the call centre before they're eligible," Reimer said.
She acknowledged, however, that many older Manitobans likely won't check the province's website or see the online briefing, and they wanted to give families, community groups and facility operators time to work out the best way to book appointments and make arrangements to get eligible people to the sites.
Up to this point, only seniors living in congregate facilities such as personal care homes have been eligible to receive the vaccine.
There are roughly 5,000 people in the 95-plus age group in Manitoba, health officials have previously said.
Selkirk, Morden-Winkler getting supersites
The province's vaccine implementation task force also announced Wednesday that the next COVID-19 vaccine supersites in Manitoba are planned to open in Selkirk and the Morden-Winkler area in the first week of March.
The two new sites — which will serve the Interlake-Eastern and Southern health regions — will mean that every health region will have a supersite. The exact location of two supersites remains to be determined.
Supersite locations were selected based on criteria such as population density in order to maximize the number of people who can reasonably get to a site.
Supersites must also act as distribution hubs for pop-up clinics and focused immunization teams in the region, so transportation routes play a key role in determining where to put them, said Johanu Botha, the task force's operations lead.
"This is a first foray of supersites," he said. "We're very aware that there are residents across Manitoba that [are] not as close to these supersites that will need convenient access to vaccines. They will have that."
Manitoba plans to eventually have 13 supersites across the province.
Supersites shut down amid shortages
Throughout March, the province expects to receive significantly more does — about 15,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine each week — than it received in February. The province's projections only extend until March 29.
The province also expects to receive more than 20,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine by the first week of March, but no Moderna shipments are confirmed beyond that point.
"It certainly seems that we've passed this hump and that the supply should be increasing as we go forward," Reimer said. "But we also need to plan for what we know will happen again … at some point there will be another disruption."
WATCH | Dr. Joss Reimer says vaccine supply has 'passed this hump,' but must prepare for more disruptions down the line:
The province announced on Tuesday just one of its vaccination supersites — the one in downtown Thompson — remains open at this time due to vaccine shortages.
The Vaxport site, located in a hangar near the northern Manitoba city's airport, has been ready to open since February but will not begin providing immunizations until vaccine supply issues are resolved.
The supersites in Winnipeg and Brandon remain closed until Thursday.
People who had appointments scheduled while the clinics are closed have been contacted to reschedule their appointments, which will still be within the recommended window, the province said.
Only 6,100 doses of the Moderna vaccine — the type remote and northern sites use because it's easier to ship and store than the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — are expected next week.
Meanwhile, 15,210 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are expected this week and 17,550 doses next week.
Next congregate facilities announced
The province also released a list of congregate living facilities where it plans to vaccinate residents on a priority basis.
Beginning Friday, mobile teams in Brandon and Winnipeg will visit high-priority settings, such as hospitals, supportive housing and assisted living sites. Along with the list, the province released a schedule of the high-priority sites teams will visit from Friday to Feb. 26.
The sites in the Winnipeg Health Region are:
- Feb. 19: Lions Supportive Housing.
- Feb. 22: Residence Despins supportive housing.
- Feb. 23: Victoria General Hospital.
- Feb. 24: Arlington Haus.
- Feb. 25: Grace Hospital and Assiniboine Links.
- Feb. 26: Dakota House Homestead, Devonshire House I Homestead and Devonshire House II Homestead.
In the Prairie Mountain Health region, they are:
- Feb. 19: Brandon Regional Health Centre.
- Feb. 22: Victoria Landing Retirement Residence, Sokol Supportive Housing, Sokol Manor, Rotary Villas at Crocus Gardens, Riverheights Terrace.
- Feb. 23: Hobbs Manor, Village Green, Winnipeg House and Kin Village.
- Feb. 25: McDiarmid Place, Parkview Seniors Co-op, Western Manitoba Seniors Non-profit Housing, Grand Valley Place, Lawson Lodge, Princess Park and Princess Tower.
- Feb. 26: Lions Manor, Odd Fellows Corner, The Towers and Kiwanis Courts.
There are more than 1,400 congregate living settings in Manitoba, with nearly 22,800 residents.
WATCH | Full news conference on COVID-19 | Feb. 17, 2021:
- An earlier version of this story said Manitoba will begin vaccinating people over the age of 95 this month. In fact, the province later clarified that it will vaccinate Manitobans age 95 and older.Feb 18, 2021 2:02 PM CT