Manitoba halts new vaccination appointments at Winnipeg, Brandon sites as Pfizer delays continue
Officials reviewing to see if already-booked appointments must be cancelled after 3rd delay announced
Manitoba is once again hitting pause on booking new vaccination appointments due to a supply slowdown from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer.
The province announced Friday it will immediately halt bookings of new appointments at its immunization supersites in Winnipeg and Brandon, after the federal government advised of another reduction in shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
Officials are reviewing current supply to see if any existing appointments will need to be cancelled.
"The known reductions over the next two weeks (Jan. 25 to Feb. 7) represent a 90 per cent decrease from what was projected last week," the province wrote in its vaccine update on Friday.
"So far, this means Manitoba will be receiving 32,760 fewer doses than had been expected."
Dr. Jazz Atwal, Manitoba's acting deputy chief public health officer, said Friday the delay is "disappointing" and "sort of unexpected," but won't affect the province's long-term planning for the pandemic response or vaccination planning.
Manitoba's vaccination program is still in its early stages and the long-term outlook remains promising, he said.
"This isn't a 100-metre sprint. It's a marathon," Atwal said.
"This is a really big jigsaw puzzle, and we're just at the beginning of putting some pieces together.
"And so a delay of a few thousand doses really has no impact … on what we're going to be doing from a public health perspective in relation to risk."
WATCH | Dr. Jazz Atwal says more vaccine delays disappointing, not a big deal in 'grand scheme':
This is the third time the province has been advised of delays or reductions in shipments from Pfizer, according to the release.
Last week, the province temporarily paused new appointment bookings due to a delay, before reopening bookings three days later.
On Wednesday, the province said a second delay meant it would vaccinate around 1,000 fewer people per day in February than originally planned, and said it would run out of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by Feb. 7 if no other shipments were received.
On Friday, the province learned it will receive less than half the number of doses it expected to get in the week of Feb. 1, dropping from 5,850 to 2,340, the release said.
Thompson supersite still set to open
No deliveries of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are expected next week, due to the reductions.
Pfizer announced last week it was pausing some vaccine production lines at its facility in Puurs, Belgium, in order to expand long-term manufacturing capacity.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a tweet Thursday that he has been assured Pfizer will catch up on promised vaccine delivery by the end of March.
A new vaccination supersite in Thompson will still open on Feb. 1 as planned, the province wrote in its release.
The site at the Thompson Regional Community Centre will initially use Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine — the other vaccine approved by Health Canada — the province said. Eligible Manitobans can start calling to book appointments on Monday.
A total of 23,884 vaccine doses have been given in Manitoba, including 20,846 first doses and 3,038 second doses.
Immunization teams are continuing to visit personal care homes. By the end of this week, teams will have been to 61 personal care homes covering an estimated 3,903 residents, vaccinating about 90 per cent of residents.
The teams will visit a further 62 sites next week, the province says.
Finalized guidance for health-care workers to help patients is available online, to help answer patient questions about the vaccine and pre-existing conditions.