1st-dose appointments levelling off, Moderna delays push completion date to end of June

Manitoba's timeline for reaching its target of getting first doses of COVID-19 vaccines into the arms of at least 70 per cent of eligible Manitobans has been pushed back to the end of June.

Anyone who received 1st dose on or before April 3 can now book 2nd dose

The province is extending the time frame to see 70 per cent of eligible Manitobans inoculated due to slowing demand for first doses (Alberta Health Services)

Manitoba's timeline for reaching its target of getting first doses of COVID-19 vaccines into the arms of at least 70 per cent of eligible Manitobans has been pushed back to the end of June.

Rather than aiming to reach that goal by June 9, health officials have extended the timeline by 21 days, to June 30.

The extension is due to slowing demand for first doses, as well as reductions in the number of Moderna doses expected to arrive next week, Johanu Botha, operations lead for the province's vaccine task force, said during a technical briefing on Friday.

"To put it simply, it is becoming a bit harder to book Manitobans in for their first dose," he said.

Botha couldn't say why fewer people are making appointments for their first dose, but said the extension was necessary as the province ramps up its second-dose campaign. As of Friday, anyone who received their first dose on or before April 3 is eligible to book their second dose.

"We just want to give ourselves that timeline, that full 21 days, because we can't predict perfectly how the remaining first dosers are going to behave, and at what rate they're going to book," he said.

"It could very well be before the end of June but now it's really up to Manitobans and to their preferences and how they behave."

The province had expected to receive total of 75,000 Moderna doses over the weeks of May 31 and June 7. That has now been cut back to 14,600 the week of May 31, and 3,500 the week of June 7.

With fewer Moderna doses to push through pop-up sites, there will be fewer Pfizer-BioNTech doses to give to youth 12 to 17, which are limited to that vaccine, Botha said. 

By June 9, the province expects to have 67 per cent of eligible Manitobans vaccinated with at least one dose — about 33,000 people short of the target of 70 per cent. 

The target for completing second doses remains unchanged at the end of July. People eligible for their second dose continue to snap up available appointments, and going forward second doses will make up a growing proportion of all bookings, Botha said.

As of Friday, a total of 816,984 vaccinations had been administered in Manitoba. In the week leading up to May 27, the seven-day average number of daily doses administered was 14,492, the highest since the start of the vaccine rollout.

Walk-in vaccinations at Leila supersite 

Walking out of the vaccination supersite on Leila Avenue in Winnipeg on Friday, Debbie Vokey said she was pleasantly surprised to have already received her second dose of the Moderna vaccine.

"I can't believe it's happened so soon for me," said Vokey, who received her first dose of the vaccine just over a month ago on April 19. 

On Thursday and Friday, the Leila supersite offered walk-in vaccinations to Manitobans 18 and up who wanted to get a Moderna dose. Vokey was among the walk-ins.

Debbie Vokey says she wasn't expecting to get her second COVID-19 vaccine dose so soon after her first. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

She said she's been following vaccine eligibility criteria, but didn't know about the walk-ins until a friend told her.

After calling to verify, Vokey says she hopped in her car as soon as she could — so quickly that she forgot to change into a short-sleeve shirt, she said.

"I'm so excited. I'm so grateful," said Vokey.

Emily Klassen, 19, received her first dose of the Moderna vaccine at the supersite Friday. She's scared of needles, but the shot didn't hurt at all, she said.

"I'm just excited to do this," said Klassen, adding that most of her friends and other young people are keen to get immunized.

John-Gabriel Galang, 20, also got vaccinated at the Leila site Friday.

"My mom asked me to get it because I have to get it for safety reasons," he said, adding he hopes others get theirs to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"I just feel a little bit more protected."

John-Gabriel Galang, 20, was pushed by his mother to get vaccinated. He received his first dose on Friday. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Emil Kowalski, 82, couldn't remember if his first vaccine dose was Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech. Nurses at the Leila Avenue clinic verified it was the latter on Friday, so the man was turned away.

But he applauded the initiative nonetheless.

"It's great. For what they have to do, it's pretty impressive," he said.

Kowalski noted that anyone who believe vaccines to be dangerous should consider their effect of diseases such as polio and smallpox.

"Millions of people died from smallpox. You don't hear about smallpox anymore, but it was because of vaccines," he said.

WATCH | More Manitobans will be able to get their second dose: 

More Manitobans will be able to get their second dose

4 months ago
The province expects 70 percent of the population to be vaccinated by July. The timeline was pushed back today as uptake for first doses slows. 2:24

With files from Erin Brohman