Situation Update

COVID Surveillance Update

Since our update on March 5, the COVID-19 situation has continued to improve gradually:

  • New cases steady: 71 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified today. With the additional 246 cases since our last update, this brings the total case count in Manitoba to 32,421.
  • Test positivity decreased: The five-day test positivity rate is 3.8. It is 2.9% in Winnipeg.
  • Active cases steady: There are 1,185 active COVID-19 cases province-wide, with 56 people in hospital with active COVID-19 cases and 106 people no longer infectious. 9 infectious patients and 12 patients who are no longer infectious are in ICU.
  • the total number of deaths in people with COVID-19 is 908; and
  • 1,928 tests were completed yesterday, bringing the total number of lab tests completed since early February 2020 to 541,926.

The total number of confirmed variant of concern cases of B.1.1.7 is 11 and B.1.351 is 11, bringing the total number of confirmed variant of concern cases to 22. This is a significant increase, because the province has been catching up on confirming these cases.

Vaccine Situation Update

Manitoba’s immunization rollout is progressing, with the following highlights:

  • 94,785 doses have been administered, including 63,993 first doses and 30,792 second doses. 149,860 doses have been received.
  • 6% of Manitoba adults are vaccinated
  • The Morden mass immunization super site will launch on March 22 and appointments can be booked starting today.
  • About 500 medical clinics and pharmacies have applied to be immunization sites (see below for an update on this)

The province has also released a schedule of pop-up clinics in smaller communities such as Portage la Prairie, Gimli, Teulon, Dauphin, Swan River, The Pas and Flin Flon. The pop-up clinics are scheduled between March 16 and 31 with more dates expected. Review the full list and schedule online.

More data is available at the province’s vaccine data reporting page.

Medical Clinics Piloting COVID Immunizations!

A limited initial shipment of AstraZeneca arrived in Manitoba earlier this week, and will begin shipping to clinics and pharmacies in the next few days. This is being considered a pilot” of the community-based vaccine initiative.

Because AstraZeneca is not yet recommended for seniors (age 65 and over), this vaccine will be targeted for specific age groups with high-risk medical conditions.

A medical advisory committee to the provincial vaccine task force has set a list of medical conditions that can increase the risk for severe COVID-related outcomes. This is based on the Manitoba experience, as well as national and international data.

Initially, physicians and pharmacies will have to target the limited AstraZeneca (Covishield) doses to individuals who:

  • Are 50 – 64, or First Nations people age 30 – 64AND
  • Have one of several designated high-risk medical conditions.

The list of conditions includes renal disease requiring dialysis, heart failure, severe COPD, blood cancers, patients on chemotherapy, and other conditions. It also includes patients receiving home care four or more times per week, or higher risk pregnancies based on age (35+), BMI (30+) or pre-existing conditions. The list is split into two priority levels and clinics and pharmacies are directed to start with patients who meet the priority 1 criteria first, and then move to priority 2.

The full list of medical conditions can be found here.

With nearly 200 clinics and pharmacies sharing the province’s initial shipment of 18,000 doses, each location will only receive between 50 and 200 doses. The limited supply is allowing the province to roll this out as a pilot.” The next shipment is not expected until April, with even more supplies available in the months ahead.

All clinics and pharmacies offering the vaccine are listed on a map on the government’s vaccine website, indicating whether they are taking appointments (green) or not taking appointments (red).

Responding to Patient Inquiries

Physicians should expect a surge in patient phone calls about the vaccine. Some Manitobans will have heard only the age range, or heard underlying conditions but not the full detailed list.

We recommend the following strategies:

  • If you are signed up to offer the vaccine, try to identify patients who meet the criteria in your EMR and send a message with an update. If you want to invite calls, let them know. If you want to let them know you will be contacting the patients most at risk, you should let them know as well.
  • Ensure your reception staff the right messages for patients.
  • Consider changing your voicemail message.

If you are a specialist or GP who is not offering the vaccine, you can refer patients to other clinics (or pharmacies) that are listed on the government’s site as offering the vaccine. It’s important to let patients know supplies are very low.

We have sample email and voicemail messages available on our campaign page for physicians.

Vaccine Campaign Update

When can I get the vaccine?

Our Vaccine Answers campaign is in full swing. Our site, Man​i​to​baVac​cine​.ca, is offering the public facts from physicians about the vaccine. It’s also helping Manitobans find out when they’ll be eligible, and allow them to sign up to get an email or text notification when they become eligible.

We’ve also launched a digital advertising campaign to help reach Manitobans about the vaccine, reinforcing that physicians are a trusted and reliable source for vaccine information and, soon, to get the shot too.

So far:

  • Our digital campaign has received over 400,000 views in just a few days
  • Over 50,000 Manitobans have checked when they will be eligible
  • Over 20,000 have signed up to be notified when it’s their turn to get the vaccine

Many physicians have shared Man​i​to​baVac​cine​.ca with their entire patient roster, encouraging them to get vaccine facts and eligibility information. If you haven’t already, check out our campaign page for physicians for sample email and voicemail text, poster for your office, and social media images you can use online.

Vaccine Toolkit Available

A new toolkit is available to help physicians rollout COVID-19 immunizations in their practice. Created by the University of British Columbia’s Primary Care Innovation Support Unit, the toolkit has provincial content too thanks to help from the Manitoba College of Family Physicians.

The COVID-19 Immunization Toolkit covers the major primary care work related to COVID-19 immunization, from informing and engaging patients to planning your immunization clinic and what to consider for follow up.

Thank you to Dr. Alex Singer, a Manitoba lead on this national collaborative project, and the Manitoba College of Family Physicians for the hard work creating this useful guide.

Guidance for the Immunized

While Manitoba has not yet published advice about how restrictions might change for people who are fully immunized. This is a frequent question from patients, and while it’s too early to be specific about what will happen in our province, it is very appropriate to reassure patients that immunization offers protection and once enough Manitobans are immunized, we expect restrictions and public health guidance to loosen.

It’s also helpful to point to what is happening elsewhere to offer hope to patients that helps to reinforce the value of early immunization. Earlier this week, the American CDC released guidance that allows those who have fully immunized* to:

  • Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or staying 6 feet apart.
  • Visit with unvaccinated people from one other household indoors without wearing masks or staying 6 feet apart if everyone in the other household is at low risk for severe disease.
  • Refrain from quarantine and testing if they do not have symptoms of COVID-19 after contact with someone who has COVID-19.

* A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of vaccine.

There are a lot of negotiations underway to consider a vaccine passport that would enable non-essential international travel, though this is likely months away.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy with Mindfulness (CBTm) Classes

All providers with experience in delivering CBT for mood, anxiety, or PTSD in primary care, specialty, or self-help organizations might be interested in upcoming facilitator training. Primary care physicians and specialists who are interested in using CBTm strategies as part of their individual or group-based treatments are also welcome.

The sessions will be held May 3 and May 10 from 12 noon to 5pm.

You can learn more and register here.

To view previous updates, click here.