Manitoba

Manitoba reassessing vaccine appointments after 2nd reduction in Pfizer-BioNTech shipments

The already-reduced shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Manitoba had expected to receive over the next few weeks have been slashed further, the provincial government announced Tuesday.

People eligible for the vaccine can still book appointments, for now

Manitoba is reassessing how many vaccination appointments it can book after learning it's expected shipments of Pfizer-BioNTech between now and the end of January will be slashed by half. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The reduced shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Manitoba had expected to receive over the next few weeks have been cut back further, the provincial government said Tuesday.

Instead of getting an expected 18,720 doses between now and the end of the month, the province expects to get half that, with further reductions expected in February.

"This is incredibly disappointing news for me as the minister, as I know it is for many Manitobans who see the vaccine as ray of hope among the many losses and challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic," Health Minister Heather Stefanson said in a news release.

The announcement of the reduction comes one day after the province resumed booking vaccination appointments, following the news last week that a pause on production at Pfizer's plant in Belgium would lead to roughly 28,000 fewer doses over the coming weeks than had originally been promised by the federal government.

The slowdown is because Pfizer is temporarily pausing some production lines at its facility in Puurs, Belgium, aiming to expand manufacturing capacity in the long term.

After taking stock of its remaining doses, Manitoba health officials determined there is still enough supply to schedule an additional 4,000 new appointments, while also honouring appointments already made.

People eligible to receive the vaccine can still book appointments, but the province is taking another look at how many first-dose appointments it can book and how many second doses are needed, said Dr. Joss Reimer, medical officer of health with Manitoba Health and a member of the province's vaccine implementation task force.

"We will not sacrifice safety for speed," Reimer said in the news release. 

Reimer said a more detailed update will be released soon. 

The reduced Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipments will not affect vaccinations in personal care homes or First Nations, Reimer said Monday.

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