COVID-19 Update — June 30, 2021
COVID Surveillance Update
Since our last update on Friday:
- Daily cases continue to decrease: 390 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified since Friday, including 70 today. The total case count in Manitoba now stands at 56,167.
- Test positivity: the five-day test positivity rate is 6.2%, up slightly from 5.9%. It is 5.6% in Winnipeg, down from 6.5%.
- Active cases continue on a downward trend: There are 1,395 active COVID-19 cases province-wide, down from 1,635.
- Hospitalizations are coming down: There are 164 people in Manitoba hospitals due to COVID-19, down from 185. This includes 46 COVID-related patients in Manitoba ICUs, down from 54 on Friday. There are also nine Manitoba patients in out-of-province ICUs, down from 12.
- Six more people have died from COVID-19, including two today. The total of COVID-19 related deaths to 1,141.
Serious Outcomes for Youth
On Sunday, we learned that a girl under the age of 10 had died from COVID-19. The child was from Winnipeg and was reported to have underlying medical condition. This is the second child under 10 in Manitoba to die from COVID-19. The first was a boy who died in November. Across Canada, there have been 14 deaths involving children and youth under the age of 20. Over 1,300 patients under 20 have required hospital care, and 160 were admitted to an ICU.
This is a reminder that while the risk of severe illness among children is lower, it is not zero. This was thoughtfully explained by a group of pediatricians last week during our Vaccine Town Hall for Youth and Parents/Guardians.
ICUs Still Under Tremendous Strain
It is important to recognize that ICUs continue to be significantly overcapacity and under a great deal of strain. As of yesterday, there were 121 patients in ICUs, including 59 COVID-19 patients. Of the 59 COVID patients in Manitoba ICUs, 17 are under the age of 40.
These numbers do not include out-of-province ICU patients. So far, Manitoba has been forced to send 57 patients to out-of-province ICUs. Nine patients are still in ICUs in other provinces, 11 died while receiving out-of-province care.
You can view explore surveillance indicators and trends on the government’s COVID-19 dashboard.
Dr. Joss Reimer today confirmed that only 1.2% of hospitalizations were fully vaccinated individuals.
Vaccine uptake has reached 73.6% of Manitobans age 12 and up with at least a first dose, and 42.4% with second doses.
More than 1.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered so far in Manitoba. The province injected 181,442 doses last week, an average of nearly 26,000 per day.
It looks like the province will achieve the Terry Fox Day target of 75% with one dose and 50% with two doses well ahead of schedule, likely next week sometime. Changes to public health orders, however, are still not expected to take immediate effect„ as Dr. Brent Roussin had indicated that at least two weeks are required after restriction changes to monitor the impacts.
Support Doctors Offering the Vaccine
There are now over 40 medical clinics accepting appointments from the public for COVID-19 vaccination. If vaccines are not available in your practice, please consider referring patients interested in getting the vaccine to a nearby medical clinic. We are maintaining a map of clinics accepting appointments using the Vaccine Finder at ManitobaVaccine.ca.
Pfizer Supply Update
With a reduced volume of Pfizer vaccine expected in the first half of July, appointments have been nearly impossible to find for Pfizer shots for over a week. This is especially concerning for individuals between 12 to 17 years of age, who are not yet able to access any other vaccine.
The province has confirmed they will receive a larger supply of doses in the second half of July, which should make up for the missing doses over the next couple of weeks. Over 246,000 doses are expected in the last two weeks of July. Appointments are again available, with availability as of noon today including July 30 in Winnipeg, July 17 in Brandon, July 24 in Morden, July 19 in Dauphin, and July 7 in Thompson.
In the meantime, Pfizer walk-up appointments are available daily starting today through to Sunday, July 4, at the Leila super site in Winnipeg. Approximately 330 doses will be available daily. In anticipation of significant demand, individuals in line will be given a colour-coded ticket, which will identify a time-slot later in the same day when they will be able to get their vaccine.
Parents, caregivers or other adults who have a booked Pfizer appointment can continue to transfer their appointment to a 12- to 17-year-old youth, through the provincial call centre, and take a Moderna vaccine appointment instead.
Physician Role in Vaccine Rollout
As the province approaches 75% of eligible Manitobans with at least a first dose, physicians are playing an increasingly important role in addressing vaccine hesitancy and increasing vaccine uptake.
Please carefully review the updates below, including how you can help reach the unvaccinated during this critical phase. With the threat of a fourth wave fueled by the Delta variant, increasing the vaccination rate continues to be a priority for the health and well-being of all Manitobans. There is a new funding opportunity to support vaccine outreach, and we are offering a webinar next week to help too.
As we move into the remaining 25% of Manitobans, who may have more concerns or hesitation about the vaccine, it is more important than ever for physicians to play a supportive role. It will be important to emphasize that getting the vaccine is a choice, and physicians want to support patients in making a fully informed choice based on facts. It is still suggested that physicians offer a clear recommendation on vaccination to patients as part of the discussion, but to do so in a way that is welcoming to patients who may have concerns or may have been influenced by misinformation they believe to be credible. We continue to update ManitobaVaccine.ca with new answers to common questions, which is a tool for both the public and physicians.
Prioritize First Doses
All physicians participating in immunizing patients in their practice are asked by public health to prioritize using their vaccine supply for first doses as much as possible. First dose uptake has slowed, with nearly 90% of the vaccines administered right now being second doses. This is a concerning trend as first dose uptake has to increase to reach a safer level of community protection.
With the trust you’ve built with your patients and the public more generally, physicians are well-positioned to help break through the hesitancy by supporting patients in a non-judgmental way with facts and empathy.
How you can help?
There are several ways you can help right now.
Helping with employer and community pop-up clinics
Several employers and community groups would like to host on-site pop-up vaccination clinics, and may need assistance with answering vaccine questions and administering shots. Doctors Manitoba is helping to compile a list of physicians available to help.
At this point, this opportunity is open to physicians already offering the vaccine in their practice. If you would like to sign up to help, please submit this short form.
Apply for Vaccine Grant
The province is offering grants of up to $20,000 to community organizations to support vaccine uptake. We have confirmed that physicians are not only eligible to apply, but that the Vaccine Task Force is encouraging applications as they recognize the unique position physicians are in to support patients with vaccine questions and concerns.
You can use the grant to support activities outside of normal clinical operations, such as targeted vaccine outreach or incentives to help interest and motivate patients to consider getting immunized. For example:
- You could use the grant to expand administrative support to contact unvaccinated patients on the Primary Care Home Clinic List. This list is refreshed weekly with enrolled patients who are neither vaccinated nor booked an appointment to get immunized. This list can be used to target your outreach and invite patients in to discuss their vaccine concerns and offer the vaccine.
- You could hold special vaccine clinics after hours or on weekends that target first doses, or to invite people to ask questions about the vaccine in a non-judgemental setting.
- Funding could be used to provide incentives to attend, or to help with patient transportation to and from your clinic.
In addition to grant funding support, physicians can also continue to submit claims for:
- Vaccine injections, which covers the actual injection and the routine practice of confirming eligibility and obtaining consent
- A visit (in-person or virtual) may also be claimed in situations where extra time is needed. This is more likely with vaccine hesitant patients where they raise concerns or express hesitancy, or for complex medical issues that require additional medical assessment.
Doctors Manitoba is available to help you in submitting a grant request. We have a webinar planned for next week (see below), and you can contact us at email@example.com for support.
You can learn more about the provincial grant here, along with information about vaccine uptake levels in different communities and neighbours. We offer the following guidance on completing the application:
- Try to organize one application for your clinic, including all physicians signed up to immunize
- Under Project Proposal, ensure you select “Other — Doctors Manitoba” as a group you are collaborating with. This will help to expedite the review and approval of your application.
- For Target Community: This is likely your unvaccinated patients, unless you are targeting a specific community with low vaccine uptake
- For Proposed Initiative: describe the actions your clinic will undertake (over and above normal clinic operations) that require grant funding
- For Rationale: Provide one to two sentences about why this will work. For example “By doing X, we will be able to reach Y patients with first doses to increase vaccine uptake.”
- For Requested Grant Amount: Identify how much funding you a re requesting, up to $20,000
- For Grant Amount Rationale: Provide a simple list of actions or activities the grant will support
- Check off “Send me a copy of my responses” before submitting, and once you get a copy of your application via email, forward a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join 1st Dose Hesitancy Discussion Webinar Next Week
Next Wednesday, July 7, we will have a discussion webinar about how physicians can break through the hesitancy about getting a first dose, and how to take advantage of the government grant. We will discuss the opportunities listed above and invite participating physicians to share their concerns and promising practices to address vaccine hesitancy.
When: Wednesday July 7 at 6:30PM
Register: Register in advance on Zoom
Pride Month Wraps Up
June is Pride month, a time to celebrate the 2SLGBTQ+ community, as well as reflect about how inclusion and equity make the medical profession stronger, and improve the health and well-being of the public.
Sometimes, organizations are accused of “rainbow washing” at this time of year, by infusing the rainbow into their online presence but doing little else to support change or demonstrate inclusion. Doctors Manitoba has embraced the rainbow as a symbol of our support this month, but we are also taking action and we want to discuss how all physicians can help.
We believe diversity, inclusion and acceptance should be something we commit to every day. Therefore, we are taking the following steps to create a more inclusive professional association for the medical community:
- We have been reviewing and revising our registration forms to offer inclusive options for gender identity, and this process along with work on our membership database will be completed in the months ahead.
- Our staff will be participating in a three-hour Awareness, Inclusion & Affirmation workshop facilitated by the Rainbow Resource Centre in September. We are also in the planning stages of offering a workshop tailored to medical environments for our members in the coming months.
- Doctors Manitoba has encouraged all staff to include their pronouns in email signatures and on their virtual meeting name plates. This is something we encourage all physicians to consider in their practice too.
Showing your pronouns, especially to those who may be unfamiliar with you, is important for a few reasons. It normalizes the conversation about pronouns: the more we see it and talk about it, the more natural it gets. It shows that not only gender diverse people use pronouns and it creates space for people to express themselves in the language used for them. It makes it easier to know how to refer to someone without needing to ask at the beginning of a conversation. Many names are ambiguous and having pronouns listed makes it easier to know how to refer to and talk with others. It takes the guesswork out of it.
What does this look like? It’s as simple as changing your email signature to include your pronouns. Some may adopt she/her/hers, others may add he/him/his, and others may include they/them/theirs. There are other pronouns being adopted too. For example, here is the new email signature for our CEO Theresa Oswald:
Theresa Oswald she/her/hers
In considering making a shift like this in your work place, it’s important to recognize the sensitivity of people who many not want to have their pronouns broadcasted. People who are questioning their gender identity, or are not out yet, may feel uncomfortable disclosing that part of their identity. It is great to encourage it and explain why it is helpful.
We invite members to learn about gender inclusive language. The Rainbow Resource Centre has provided us with some resources to help with this.
We know there is more to do to create inclusiveness and equity within the medical community. We invite your feedback and advice about what Doctors Manitoba can do as your professional association. Together we can build a more inclusive, welcoming and stigma-free environment for our colleagues and patients,
Invitation: Behind the Mask
Leave it to medical students to come up with some of the best ideas!
A group of four medical students are looking for physicians to profile for their Behind the Mask initiative to help raise awareness about, and promote, physician wellness. The initiative is a social media campaign called #BehindTheMask. The purpose of this campaign is to humanize the face of medicine and to introduce our community to the people behind the masks.
The four medical students leading the initiative hare a passion for physician wellness advocacy. Led by Alli Balasko, Cecily Taylor, Monica Ghebrial and Mira Villegas, the initiative is supported by the MMSA. They want to “create a platform to humanize the amazing physicians in this province and allow a space for the community to get to know the people #BehindTheMask.”
Participating is simple. Physicians would be featured in a post on Instagram and Facebook, with one picture of you in a medical mask and one picture without the mask (out doing something you enjoy) followed by a small blurb about yourself.
To participate, or inquire more about the initiative, please contact the team at email@example.com.
Another week with the work of fantastic Manitoba physicians being recognized and honoured.
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada unveiled their awards at their Annual Clinical and Scientific Conference.
- Dr. Vanessa Poliquin was honoured with a Distinguished Service Award along with the SOGC Infectious Diseases Committee for which she is a Co-Chair. Their tireless work was singled out as being vital during the pandemic, helping to improve treatment and vaccine guidance across the country. Dr. Poliquin shared her expertise just last week on reproductive infectious disease in one of our vaccine town halls for the public.
- Dr. Jennifer Gunter, a gynecologist originally from Manitoban who has raised awareness about several women’s health issues, was celebrated with an Honorary Membership
Also of note, Dr. Maggie Morris from Winnipeg takes over as President of the national organization. She plans to start a pan-Canadian dialogue about collaborative care over the next year.
Have you heard about a colleague being recognized with an award or other honour? Please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org so we can help celebrate the achievements of the medical community!