Manitoba works to streamline vaccinations as Morden COVID-19 supersite set to open

The supersite meant to serve Manitoba's Southern health region is set to open in Morden, Man., this Monday, and the province says it's working to make the immunization process more efficient.

Manitoba's top doctor receives AstraZeneca vaccine, says he has no safety concerns

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief public health officer, receives the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine from Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead on the Manitoba Vaccine Implementation Task Force, at a clinic in Winnipeg on Friday. Roussin said he has no concerns about the vaccine. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

The COVID-19 vaccination supersite meant to serve Manitoba's Southern Health region is set to open in Morden this Monday, and the province says it's working to make the immunization process more efficient.

On Friday, provincial officials toured the clinic at the Morden Access Event Centre, which will pilot a new system when it opens next week. The aim will be to get patients in and out of their appointments in 25 minutes, down from 45.

"This will allow for more rapid turnover between clients and less waiting, which will allow us to immunize more people every day and get the vaccine to more Manitobans sooner," Health Minister Heather Stefanson said in a Friday news release.

In the current system, an immunizer is responsible for delivering the vaccine to each patient, as well as checking and updating their medical records. That means the immunizer can administer six to eight doses each hour, the province says.

Staff at the Morden and Winnipeg supersites will pilot a new system, which will see some staff assigned to fill the needles with vaccine, while others will focus on checking and updating immunization records.

Immunizers will move from patient to patient with a cart of supplies, which the province expects will "vastly increase" the number of immunizations they can complete in an hour.

A COVID-19 vaccination supersite at the Morden Access Event Centre opened on Friday. The site is meant to serve the Southern Health region. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

Next week, Manitoba expects to receive 42,120 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 40,600 doses of Moderna's, the province said in a bulletin on Friday.

So far, 123,144 doses of vaccine have been administered in the province — 83,641 first doses and 39,503 second doses.

Top doc gets AstraZeneca shot

When the Morden site opens Monday, joining already open sites in Winnipeg, Brandon, Selkirk and Thompson, the province will have vaccination supersites in all five health regions. Those sites also serve as distribution centres for mobile immunization teams and pop-up clinics in the regions.

Eventually, the province plans to open 13 supersites.

Vaccinations have also started at some pharmacies and medical clinics.

Manitoba Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin got his first dose of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine at a Winnipeg clinic on Friday.

Roussin announced at a press conference on Monday that he would get the vaccine from AstraZeneca-Oxford — one some European countries temporarily stopped using over reports of rare brain blood clots following vaccinations.

However, on Thursday, the European Medicines Agency said its investigation into 30 cases of unusual blood disorders determined that the vaccine's benefits in protecting people from coronavirus-related death or hospitalization outweigh the possible risks. Germany, France and other European nations announced plans to resume using the vaccine following the EMA's announcement.

"Even looking at that data, it's very limited to to support any concerning findings," Roussin said on Monday.

"I don't have any safety concerns.... In my opinion, this is a safe vaccine."