COVID-19 Update – January 28

Situation Update

Since our update yesterday, 133 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified. This brings the total case count in Manitoba to 29,128.

The five-day test positivity rate is 8.7%, down from 9.6% yesterday. It is 5.4% in Winnipeg, down from 6.1%.

There are currently 3,456 active COVID-19 cases, unchanged since yesterday. This includes 277 COVID patients in hospital today, down from 281, with 37 patients in ICU.

Eight more deaths related to COVID-19 were announced today. A total of 821 Manitobans have died due to COVID-19.

You can learn more in today’s public health bulletin.

Vaccine Update

The province received further information about the Pfizer supply disruption today. Even with the 12,870 fewer doses Manitoba will receive by the end of March, provincial officials expect to be able to keep all of the second dose appointments already booked, within the recommended 28-day window.

Some of the second dose appointments for health care workers scheduled for the week of February 15 may need to be rescheduled, though at this point they should still occur within the recommended time frame. Individuals affected will be contacted by provincial officials by email or text if appointments will be rescheduled.

The supply change will not affect second dose immunizations of PCH residents.

Medical Clinic-Based Immunization
We have been working with provincial officials over the last few weeks to start preparing for administering the COVID-19 vaccine in physicians’ offices. This is responsive to the recommendations Doctors Manitoba made to government based on the advice we received from physicians. Over 80% of family physicians expressed an interest in administering the vaccine in their office, along with 30% of specialists.

At this point, we are working on several details with provincial officials, including the administrative and reporting requirements and remuneration. We will share details as they are finalized, but it will be important to watch for updates from Doctors Manitoba in the days ahead.

The timing of rolling out the vaccine into physicians’ offices, as well as pharmacies, is not known. Provincial officials have confirmed they would use a more stable vaccine in these settings, such as the Oxford-AstraZeneca product, which could be approved within weeks. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will not be offered in community settings at this point due to the more sensitive storage and distribution requirements.

We will be working with our partners, the College of Physicians and Surgeons and the College of Family Physicians, to ensure physicians have the information and support they need in a coordinated manner.

Vaccine Hesitancy Webinar

Three in four physicians have asked for help in responding to vaccine hesitancy about the COVID-19 vaccines. We have planned a special webinar next week on this very topic, with new findings from current research and a practical discussion about responding to hesitancy about vaccines.

The webinar will include a presentation on vaccine hesitancy, why it is a complicated issue, patients’ perspectives, and concrete and effective strategies for how physicians can approach patients about vaccines. This will include emerging findings from current research with the public about the COVID-19 vaccines. The presentation will be followed by a Q&A to allow physicians the opportunity to ask questions and share their experience about what works, and what doesn’t, in responding to vaccine hesitancy.

Webinar Details

When you register, you will have a chance to submit questions in advance for the panel. You’ll also have a chance to ask them live during the webinar.

Our panel includes vaccine communication researcher Dr. S. Michelle Driedger (PhD), a Community Health Sciences Professor at the University of Manitoba, as well as Dr. Jen Potter, a family physician and assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine with a research interest in vaccine hesitancy. Additional panelists may be added based on the questions submitted in advance.

Vaccine Prioritization

In case you missed it, yesterday the province unveiled the full prioritization list for the general population, as well as for all health care providers.

To find out when you might be eligible, use a calculator we created as trial and and let us know what you think of it.

Depending on your age and where you work, physicians could be eligible now for the vaccine, or in one of three other priority stages. Depending on supplies, start dates for each stage range from today to as late as March 16, assuming the province receives the supply of vaccines it is expecting.

Immunization of the general population, starting with those aged 95 and over, could start March 1. Manitoba is using a purely age-based approach for the general population, while some other jurisdictions have also included those clinically considered extremely vulnerable, or those with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of serious disease or death (see UK for example).

You can find our summary of how eligibility will be prioritized here, and see the full provincial documents here.

Trailblazing Women

The Nellie McClung Foundation released a list today celebrating “the contributions that Manitoba woman have made to social justice, arts, sports, politics, community activities and promoting democracy while developing this great province.”

It’s no surprise to find many trailblazing women from our community on this list, including:
• Dr. Charlotte Ross, Manitoba’s first woman physician who lived in and practiced in Whitemouth from 1881 to 1910
• Dr. June James, a specialist and trailblazer in Allergy and Clinical Immunology as well as Pediatrics, an active community member, Doctors Manitoba Physician of the Year in 2020, and the first woman of color admitted to the University of Manitoba School of Medicine
• Theresa Oswald, the first woman CEO of Doctors Manitoba who was also the first cabinet minster to give birth while holding office, the first female Minister of Health in Manitoba, and the longest consecutive serving minister of health in Canada since the introduction of Medicare.
There were also many other women physician trailblazers who were nominated and deserve to be celebrated and recognized. This includes Dr. Gigi Osler, Past President of the CMA, Dr. Marlyn Cook, Dr. Reeni Soni, Dr. Sara Israels, Dr. Ethel McPhail (deceased), and Dr. Donalda Huggins (deceased).

Please join us in sending congratulations and gratitude to each winner and nominee. Your contributions and commitment are an inspiration.