COVID-19 Update-March 15, 2021
COVID Surveillance Update
Since our update on Friday:
- 186 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified, including 50 new cases today. This brings the total case count in Manitoba to 32,793.
- Test positivity increased: The five-day test positivity rate is 4.8%, up from 4.1% on Friday. It is 3.5% in Winnipeg, up from 3.0%.
- Active cases stable: There are 908 active COVID-19 cases province-wide, up slightly from 872 .
- There are 151 people in hospital, down from 154. This includes 23 people in ICU.
- Five more deaths were identified, though today there were no new deaths identified. The total number of deaths is now 917.
Eighteen more cases were confirmed to be the B.1.1.7 (UK) variant of concern. This brings the total number of variant of concern cases to 41, including 30 B.1.1.7 (UK) variant cases and 11 B.1.351 (South Africa) cases.
Vaccine Situation Update
Manitoba surpassed the 100,000 vaccine dose milestone on Saturday after nearly three months of offering immunizations. As more supply becomes available, and with physicians now starting to offer the vaccine, the pace is expected to pick up rapidly. All Manitoba adults should become eligible by mid-June.
Key highlights include:
- 106,931 doses have been administered, up from 99,842 on Friday. This includes 73,009 first doses and 33,922 second doses.
- 6.8% of Manitoba adults have received their first vaccination, up from 6.4% on Friday.
- Eligibility was expanded today to include those age 77 and older, and First Nations peoples age 57 and older.
Clinics and pharmacies started receiving their first shipments of AstraZeneca/Covishield last week. 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.
Vaccine Eligibility Update
The province expanded vaccine eligibility yesterday to include all staff working in a variety of health care settings, including those who do not have direct patient contact. This means staff working in physicians’ offices should now all be eligible. The change eliminates the requirement that the services provided are provincially-insured.
The new eligibility now includes individuals “who may or may not have direct contact with patients,” age 18 and over, who work in the following settings:
- Acute care (hospitals) and PCHs
- Designated COVID-19 response areas, including immunization clinics, testing sites and alternate isolation accommodations
- Congregate living facilities
- Community/outpatient settings, including “clinics, diagnostic imaging, laboratories, patient transport, blood donor centres, surgical centres, elderly day programs and home based care”
Eligible health care workers can call the provincial vaccine call centre at 1−844−626−8222 to book their appointment. If they are age 18 – 64, they are also eligible to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in a medical clinic or pharmacy, though these supplies are very limited right now and as much as possible are to be prioritized for Manitobans with high-risk medical conditions between the ages of 50 and 64 (30 to 64 for First Nations peoples).
The criteria was also expanded to include older adults age 77 and older (First Nations peoples age 57 and older), but these individuals can only book into a provincial immunization clinic.
The current eligibility criteria varies across Canada. BC resident age 84 and over today became eligible, while it’s age 74 and up in Alberta and 75+ in PEI. Ontario and Nova Scotia are now open to individuals 80 and over, but in Saskatchewan the age is 70 and over.
We can all help the vaccine rollout!
All physicians can help support Manitobans on their vaccine journey! These are new vaccines, for a new disease, and it’s natural for patients to have questions.
Doctors Manitoba started a major vaccine campaign to help Manitobans get facts about the COVID-19 vaccine from a trusted source: physicians. So far, our ads have received one million views and we’ve had over 90,000 Manitobans check their eligibility. As more vaccine supplies become available in clinics, we will be able to connect Manitobans to a doctor to get the vaccine too. We’ve also received hundreds of questions about the vaccines. Some answers are already posted, with more to come!
Here are a few ways you can help:
- Share our ManitobaVaccine.ca website with your patients! Many clinics and physicians have already shared this resource. We have sample email text, posters and images here for you to use.
- If you are experiencing hesitancy from patients about the vaccine, see our Guide to Responding to Vaccine Hesitancy for tips and suggestions. A recent CMAJ article underscores the unique roots of vaccine hesitancy among Indigenous Peoples in Canada, including medical experiments. The authors note how important it is to understand this and differentiate it from “anti-vax” movements.
- Remember, all physicians can offer visits (in-person or virtual) to answer patient questions about the new vaccines, address hesitancy, and help assess their eligibility. If you are offering a visit like this at the same time as the actual injection, review our Billing Guide on Vaccine Visits and Injections or contact us at email@example.com for guidance.
- Check out the COVID-19 Immunization Toolkit, a national initiative that also has Manitoba content thanks to the Manitoba College of Family Physicians and the Department of Family Medicine. The team has also produced an EMR query guide to help you get a list of patients meeting the priority 1 and priority 2 eligibility criteria, to assist you with outreach to your highest risk patients.
- See a summary of a webinar we hosted with provincial officials last week with key takeaways about the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, prioritization approaches, and information about storage and usage.
We’re also looking to hear from physicians who have or will receive an Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine injection. While experts have stressed this is a safe and highly effective vaccine, we may need some local physicians who have opted to receive this personally to help reinforce our collective confidence in this vaccine product. If you would like to help, please email Keir Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re also keen to hear about patient stories from those who have received the vaccine in a doctor’s office. The Winnipeg Free Press had a great story on the weekend (Phone call from doctor prompts happy dance) but we’d love to hear from you and your patients too.
New Resource for Serious Illness Conversations
Choosing Wisely Canada has launched new resources to encourage serious illness conversations to support understanding patient goals and wishes to avoid overly aggressive and potentially harmful tests and treatments. This new toolkit has clinician resources to help you engage in serious illness conversations and patient resources to support their understanding and decision making.