Vaccine eligibility expands to more neighbourhoods in Winnipeg, Brandon
More Winnipeg neighbourhoods, including St. Johns, Wolseley and West End, plus Brandon downtown now eligible
More Manitobans living in COVID-19 hot spots, including all adults in inner-city neighbourhoods in Winnipeg and Brandon, can now book appointments for a vaccine.
The new areas include the neighbourhoods of St. Johns, Wolseley and the West End in Winnipeg, as well as the health district called Brandon downtown.
Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine implementation task force, made the announcement during a technical briefing with reporters Wednesday morning.
"Community-based eligibility helps address systemic barriers while providing added protection when entire households can be immunized at the same time," Reimer said during a news conference later the same day.
Everyone 18 and older living in the designated neighbourhoods, as well as people working in specified front-line jobs, will be able to book appointments for a COVID-19 vaccine at one of the province's supersites or pop-up clinics.
The boundaries of the Brandon downtown area are Pacific Avenue to the north, First Street to the east, Richmond Avenue to the south and between 17th and 18th streets to the west.
A map of all priority communities, along with a list of eligible professions, is available on the provincial government's website.
The list of priority areas already includes the entire Northern Health region, as well as the Winnipeg health districts of Seven Oaks west, Inkster east, Point Douglas south and Downtown east. All residents and priority workers in the North End, downtown and West End of Winnipeg are now eligible.
The province is targeting vaccine eligibility to people living in COVID-19 hot spots — areas selected based on public health data from the pandemic's second wave and the ongoing third wave.
On Wednesday, the province announced three more people had died from COVID-19, including two people in their 20s, and there were 189 new cases.
Age eligibility paused
As the province has expanded eligibility to more priority communities, the general age of eligibility to get a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at one of the province's supersites or temporary clinics has not changed since it was lowered a week ago to anyone 50 and older, and First Nations people 30 and up.
The province plans to announce more priority communities over the next week, and then the province will take another look at whether to adjust the eligibility requirements, Reimer said.
"It's really critical that we do get eligibility opened to the communities where we know that high risk of increased transmission and increased severe outcomes is still prioritized," she said.
"Once we do open back to the general population, we expect that the age groups will drop quite rapidly, because so many people have already been made eligible through other mechanisms, including the priority communities."
The province also released some data showing that vaccine uptake among eligible people has lagged in some communities in Winnipeg and southern Manitoba. Of particular concern are areas where uptake is below 20 per cent, Reimer said.
The three areas with the lowest percentage of residents who have received at least one dose of a vaccine are all in the Southern Health region: the health districts of Stanley, surrounding Morden and Winkler (6.1 per cent), Winkler (13.6 per cent), and Hanover, south and east of Steinbach (14.9 per cent).
The Winnipeg district of Point Douglas south — which incorporates areas west of the Red River, including all of the Point Douglas neighbourhood, as well as parts of the North End — has an uptake rate of 17.3 per cent.
Low uptake factors
A variety of factors contribute to low vaccine uptake in these areas, including barriers to information about vaccines, difficulty getting to a vaccine site and mistrust of public health messaging about vaccines, Reimer said.
The province has begun outreach efforts with cultural, religious and civic leaders to address any concerns people in those communities may have or barriers they may face.
The province also announced another vaccine supersite. The new site will open May 10 in Dauphin, Man., at 304 Whitmore Ave. E. This will be the second supersite in the Prairie Mountain Health region.
A Steinbach supersite, announced earlier this month, will open May 18 at the Royal Canadian Legion at 294 Lumber Ave.
WATCH | Full news conference on COVID-19 | April 28, 2021: