The province is announcing its much-anticipated vaccination priority list, giving locals an idea of how long they have to wait.
The majority of the province's plan is to vaccinate the population oldest to youngest, with some exceptions. The shots will be given to the general public starting with those aged 80 and older.
Vaccinations for the general population will begin on March 1.
Dr. Joss Reimer with the Vaccine Implementation Task Force says the choice to vaccinate oldest to youngest is based on federal recommendations and data collection. Additionally, the age-based system means those who are more likely to be leaving their home for errands or work are lower on the priority list than those who mostly stay home.
"We actually had some very difficult discussions about that because we do know that the younger populations are more likely to be out and about, to be social, to be at events once we can have events. At the end of the day, it came down to who was going to be the most vulnerable; who is going to be experiencing the most severe outcomes," Reimer says.
She says the decision resulted in making sure those most at risk for severe outcomes are safe.
There are no priority groups for populations more vulnerable to the virus such as those with chronic illnesses or who are unsheltered. The province says they are working with community leaders to create a plan to vaccinate the homeless population.
The province is looking at both a high supply and low supply scenario, making the timeline of exactly when adults will receive a COVID-19 vaccine fluid. A high scenario outcome includes estimations of vaccine doses including not-yet approved vaccines. The low is looking at the two already-approved companies.
The province also is waiting to learn if more doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will arrive. If no new doses are given by February 5, the province will run out by February 7.
High supply scenario
- Manitobans aged 80 and older, starting with those 95 and older, will begin receiving the vaccine on March 1. Starting with the oldest Manitobans, the age will lower in increments of five years until those 80 and older are vaccinated, potentially by April 30. This is the only group set to be grouped in five-year cohorts.
- Ages 70-79 starting on March 15 in yearly increments. They will finish on May 28.
- Ages 60-69 start on April 1 and finishing on May 31.
- Ages 50-59 begin April 15, ending on June 30.
- Ages 40-49 start their doses on May 3 and end July 30
- Ages 30-39 start June 1 and end July 30.
The remainder of Manitobans, stopping at age 18, are set to be vaccinated starting on June 15 and finishing on August 31
Low supply scenario
- Manitobans aged 80 and older, starting with those 95 and older, will begin receiving the vaccine on March 1 Starting with the oldest Manitobans, the age will lower in increments of five years until those 80 and older are vaccinated, potentially by April 30. This is the only group set to be grouped in five-year cohorts.
- Ages 70-79 start on March 15 in yearly increments. They will finish on May 14.
- Ages 60-69 start on April 1 and finishing on June 30
- Ages 50-59 beginning May 3, ending on June 30.
- Ages 40-49 start their doses onJuly 15 and end on October 29.
- Ages 30-39 start October 1 and end December 31.
The remainder of Manitobans, stopping at age 18, are set to be vaccinated starting on June 15 and finishing on August 31.
Manitobans under 18 years old are currently not included in vaccination plans. If vaccination is approved for children, the earliest Manitoba will give them the doses is on September 21.
There are four phases of healthcare worker vaccination rollouts, which the province has already seen the first.
Phase 1:The low supply scenario started December 16 and will end February 15.
Phase 2:The low supply scenario starts February 16 and ends on March 1.
Phase 3:The low supply scenario starts March 2 and ends on March 15.
Phase 4: All other healthcare workers. The low supply scenario starts March 15 and ends on March 31.
The top priorities for vaccination continue to be:
- health care workers directly involved in the COVID-19 response
- seniors in long-term care facilities
- adults aged 80 or more
- adults at risk in remote or isolated Indigenous communities
First Nation leaders are set to share their vaccination plans on Monday.
People in congregant living facilities such as homeless shelters will begin being vaccinated on February 1 and will finish on March 31.
The province is looking at creating a category for essential workers and is working to define who would be in those categories.
More vaccination sites
There are plans to create supercentres in other parts of the province including in Southern Health.
Officials are looking to send out more FIT teams that saw the rollout of personal care home vaccinations, vaccine hubs and popups, and work with medical offices and pharmacists to deliver the vaccine in more traditional settings. The hubs and pop-ups will be aimed at rural and northern Manitoban communities, starting on February 8 in Flin Flon and The Pas. In total seven communities are set to soon see these pop-ups.
The increase in vaccinations means more healthcare professionals will need to be hired. The team plans to use healthcare workers, such as not yet hired paramedics, to aid during the demand.
Appointments will continue to be made over the phone when needed.
Those hoping to snag a dose early by hanging around the vaccination site will be disappointed, as the province says they store the doses for up to five days after they have been thawed, eliminated the risk of unused vaccinations.
"We are always asking immunizers in the super centre to only use one vial at a time so they would not have a lot of vaccines sitting there at the end of the day., even if people cancel their appointment," Reimer says.
Reimer says no matter how many people miss their appointments, there would never be more than five out of the vial's six doses remaining at the end of the day.