COVID Immunizations: Physicians Can Help

Doctors Manitoba released the results from a survey of physicians today, indicating strong support among doctors for the COVID vaccines along with recommendations for how physicians could strengthen the COVID immunization rollout.

“Our survey confirms physicians overwhelmingly support these new COVID vaccines and we see them as a way out of this pandemic,” said Dr. Cory Baillie, President of Doctors Manitoba. “We all owe it to Manitobans, who have endured through very difficult times, to get the vaccine to them as quickly as possible so we can get back to a normal way of living. Manitoba’s physicians can help in several ways to ensure our province is a leader when it comes to this unprecedented immunization challenge.”

Based on the survey of over 500 physicians and detailed advice from a panel of family physicians and specialists, Doctors Manitoba is making the following five recommendations to strengthen and support the provincial immunization rollout:

  1. Accept help from physicians to immunize more Manitobans. Half (49%) of physicians are interested in helping the immunization campaign in provincial “super sites” or mobile immunization teams. Over 110 have already offered to help.
  2. Be more transparent about prioritization and eligibility. Like other jurisdictions, Manitoba should publish a complete eligibility list indicating the order in which different priority groups will be eligible. Right now, the near-daily changes to eligibility are creating unnecessary confusion, stress, and uncertainty about “who comes next.” More transparency about the full prioritized plan for eligibility—along with the full membership of the provincial vaccine implementation task force making these decisions—will bolster physician and public confidence in the process. 
  3. Enlist physicians to help identify Manitobans who should be immunized first. While the province is equipped to identify individuals who may be more at risk for severe illness due to their age, doctors are best positioned to identify patients at increased risk because of medical conditions or social factors.
  4. Plan now for offering the vaccine in doctors’ offices when supplies allow. 82% of family physicians are interested in administering the vaccine in their practice. A recent Angus Reid poll found that doctors’ offices are the top choice for where individuals want to get the vaccine. However, this will be more complicated than an annual flu shot campaign, and more detailed planning will be needed to ensure the province and doctors are ready for this when vaccine supplies increase.
  5. Partner with physicians to address vaccine hesitancy. Manitobans have questions about these new vaccines. They trust their doctor, who knows their personal medical history, to support them in making a decision about getting immunized. Doctors want more information about the vaccines and advice about responding to vaccine hesitancy. Doctors Manitoba can work with experts on resources and education for physicians.

Doctors Manitoba has met with provincial officials to explore how physicians can support the immunization rollout. Dr. Baillie noted that these survey results and the recommendations above from physicians can inform these discussions, and hopefully this will help to quickly formalize the role doctors will play in the vaccine campaign, as well as clarify the resources and supports they need.

“Nobody wants to see vaccine doses left in storage rather than in Manitobans’ arms,” added Dr. Baillie. “Whether that’s because there aren’t enough immunizers, or because Manitobans are hesitant about these new vaccines, physicians can play a stronger role to support a safe and swift immunization rollout.”

See the full Report on Vaccine Survey of Physicians for more information.