Manitoba does not expect to immunize everyone who wants COVID-vaccine shots this year

Manitoba does not expect to immunize everyone in the province against COVID-19 this year.

Immunization rollout plan projects 70 per cent of population will be immunized before 2022

LoriAnn Laramee, public health nurse, prepares dilutant for the COVID-19 vaccine in the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg in December. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Manitoba does not expect to immunize everyone in the province against COVID-19 this year.

An immunization roll-out plan published by the province projects about 70 per cent of Manitobans will receive two doses of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines before 2021 comes to a close.

Both vaccines require two doses.

The projection is based on "how much vaccine may be available in 2021 and the percentage of Manitoba's eligible population that may be immunized over that time," according to the two-page document.

The document does not project when in 2022 all Manitobans who want to be immunized will have access to two shots of either vaccine.

Dr. Jazz Atwal, Manitoba's acting deputy provincial public health officer, said the immunization picture could improve if other vaccines are approved for use in Canada.

"It's based on numbers that we have right now," he said of the rollout plan, which is subject to change. "If another vaccine gets approved and we have a lot more volume of vaccine comes in, that'll have an impact on this."

The rollout plan was published late Wednesday afternoon, hours after Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister claimed everyone in the province could be vaccinated by the end of March if sufficient vaccine supplies materialized.

Dr. Joss Reimer, who's overseeing the vaccination effort, declined to corroborate that claim.

The rollout plan also states Manitoba intends to fully immunize the equivalent of 3.5 per cent of the population against COVID-19 by the end of February with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The plan calls for 98,400 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be doled out by March 1. That's equivalent to 49,200 complete immunizations.

To reach that goal, the province expects to ramp up Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations from about 7,000 shots this week to 16,500 doses a week by Feb. 22, according to the plan.

It also foresees a slowdown of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations during the final week of February, when the province exhausts the initial shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech formulation.

There is no projection in the document for Moderna vaccinations in the coming weeks.

The province plans to immunize 9,834 personal-care-home residents with the Moderna vaccine by the first week of March. That will require nearly 20,000 doses.

It is also shipping 5,300 Moderna doses to First Nations, starting today.

First Nations health authorities are prioritizing health-care workers at remote and isolated communities, personal-care-home residents, anyone 60 or over in remote and isolated communities and anyone 70 or over in all communities.

As of Wednesday evening, the province had administered 6,026 out of the 29,530 vaccine doses it has received.

Manitoba has received more doses per capita than most other provinces. Nonetheless, the premier has lashed out at the federal government for declining to send more doses.

NDP Leader Wab Kinew said the Progressive Conservative government has only itself to blame.

"We came into 2021 with 100 per cent optimism about this year," Kinew said. "Based on this news today, we've got to revise this optimism down to 70 per cent."


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