From infection leader to vaccination leader: Manitoba now No. 1 among provinces in doses per capita

Manitoba has climbed to No. 1 among the provinces in per capita COVID-19 vaccine administration.

Including 1st and 2nd doses, Manitoba has administered 97,909 shots per 100,000 residents

Long lines of walk-in hopefuls outside this drugstore in Winnipeg's Osborne Village neighbourhood earlier this month demonstrated the high demand for shots in Manitoba. The province now leads Canada in vaccine administration per capita. (John Einarson/CBC)

After relinquishing the title of North America's COVID-19 infection leader, Manitoba now leads all provinces in a less depressing pandemic category.

Manitoba has climbed to No. 1 among the provinces in per capita COVID-19 vaccine administration, edging above Ontario to claim bragging rights in area where it underperformed earlier in 2021.

As of Tuesday, Manitoba reported doling out a total of 1.35 million first and second vaccine doses to its 1.38 million residents.

That works out to a per capita rate of 97,909 shots for every 100,000 residents.

Ontario ranked second with 97,856.

"This is really important," Premier Brian Pallister said on Tuesday morning, lauding the nation-leading milestone about seven hours before it was achieved.

The provincial rankings for the day are set at about 6 p.m. CT, after every jurisdiction reports its vaccination numbers.

"As vaccine supplies from the federal government continue to ramp up — and we thank them for that — our team have been able to get shots in arms faster than any other province in the country," the premier said.

During the first three months of 2021, Manitoba lagged behind most other provinces in per capita vaccine administration. In April, the provincial vaccination effort started to improve relative to those of other provinces.

Johanu Botha, logistics lead for the province's vaccine implementation task force, attributed the recent turnaround to a combination of opening up more vaccine supersites, a steady supply of vaccine shipments from the federal government and high demand from Manitobans who want a shot.

"It's the perfect combination of supply, demand and then having that capacity in place," Botha said Tuesday in an interview. "It's great news. We'll take it and we'll keep powering on."

Expected to hit August target ahead of schedule

As of Tuesday, just over 73 per cent of Manitobans aged 12 and up had received at least one vaccine dose, while nearly 40 per cent were fully immunized with two doses, according to the province's vaccination dashboard.

Botha said the province expects to meet its Aug. 2 vaccination targets ahead of schedule. The province has been aiming to get one dose to 75 per cent of people age 12 and up and two doses to 50 per cent by the end of the Terry Fox Day long weekend.

"We're hesitant to lock in a specific date, but what we can comfortably say is yeah, we are aiming to beat our target," he said.

Johanu Botha, co-lead, Manitoba's Vaccine Implementation Task Force, said Manitoba will know in weeks whether community-led vaccine clinics were effective in improving uptake in a number of southern Manitoba health districts. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Vaccine uptake, however, still varies in different parts of the province. First-dose administration ranges from nearly 87 per cent of people aged 12 and up in northern Manitoba's Cross Lake/Pimicikamak health district to slightly more than 18 per cent in the Stanley health district, which straddles the U.S. border and surrounds the communities of Winkler and Morden.

Botha said he's hopeful community-led vaccine clinics in low-uptake southern Manitoba health districts such as Stanley, Winkler, Hanover and Altona will lead unvaccinated people to get their first dose.

"In the areas of low uptake, where either hesitancy or accessibility or a combination of both is a barrier to getting those those Dose 1s up, it is longer work," he said.

"In the next two to four weeks with these community clinics, we'll have to see how effective they are. We're optimistic, but we want to see what happens."

Vaccination card complaints

Botha also said the province is working through a backlog of complaints from Manitobans who have not been able to obtain vaccination cards two weeks after their second dose.

The province has heard from 2,000 to 3,000 people who could not obtain their vaccination cards, which confer privileges such as eating indoors with people you don't live with. All but about 500 complaints have been resolved, he said.

Some of the complaints were due to the time it takes some vaccine providers to report to the province, he said, adding that lag can take up to one week in some instances.

He also said the province is working to get a telephone line back up to handle vaccination-card requests from people who don't have internet access. That line should be working again within days, he said.


Bartley Kives

Senior reporter, CBC Manitoba

Bartley Kives joined CBC Manitoba in 2016. Prior to that, he spent three years at the Winnipeg Sun and 18 at the Winnipeg Free Press, writing about politics, music, food and outdoor recreation. He's the author of the Canadian bestseller A Daytripper's Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada's Undiscovered Province and co-author of both Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg and Stuck In The Middle 2: Defining Views of Manitoba.


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