COVID-19 Update-March 5, 2021
We’ve adjusted our situation update to include more information at-a-glance.
COVID Surveillance Update
Since our update on Wednesday, the COVID-19 situation has continued to improve gradually:
- New cases steady: 104 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified, including 54 today. This brings the total case count in Manitoba to 32,104.
- Test positivity decreased: The five-day test positivity rate is 3.0%, down from 3.8%. It is 2.4% in Winnipeg, down from 3.2%.
- Active cases steady: There are 1,133 active COVID-19 cases province-wide, down slightly from 1,146.
- Hospitalizations down: There are currently 171 patients in hospital today related to COVID-19, down from 186. This includes 24 patients in ICU.
One additional case has been confirmed as variant of concern (B.1.351). There are now nine variant cases in Manitoba including six B.1.1.7 (originally from UK) and three B.1.351 (original from South Africa).
Vaccine Situation Update
Manitoba’s immunization rollout is progressing, with the following highlights:
- 84,937 doses have been administered, including 55,090 first doses and 29,847 second doses.
- 2.8% of Manitoba adults are fully vaccinated
- Next week, Manitoba expects to receive 16,380 doses of Pfizer and 18,000 doses of Covishield (AstraZeneca).
More data is available at the province’s vaccine data reporting page.
First Dose Policy Moves Up Timelines
With the new recommendation to delay second doses to as long as four months after the first shot, combined with new vaccine approvals, the province has updated its timelines for when Manitobans of different age groups will be eligible for the vaccine.
We have updated our Eligibility Checker at ManitobaVaccine.ca with the new predicted eligibility timelines. Please refer your patients to this site, where they can also register to be notified by email or text when they become eligible.
All adult age groups are now expected to become eligible much sooner, with the youngest adults becoming eligible by the end of June:
- Age 80+ and First Nations Age 60+ should be eligible by March 15
- Age 70 – 79 and First Nations Age 50 – 59 should be eligible between March 10 and April 5
- Age 60 – 69 and First Nations Age 40 – 49 should be eligible between April 1 and April 15
- Age 50 – 59 and First Nations Age 30 – 39 should be eligible between April 5 and May 7
- Age 40 – 49 and First Nations Age 18 – 29 should be eligible between April 8 and May 17
- Age 30 – 39 should be eligible between April 22 to June 14
- Age 18 – 29 should be eligible between May 3 to June 30
Johnson & Johnson Approval
Health Canada approved the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine today. This is the fourth vaccine approved in Canada, and was developed by J&J subsidiary Janssen Inc. Like Oxford-AstraZeneca, it is a non-replicating viral vector vaccine and does not require a freezer for storage. Unlike the three other approved vaccines, however, J&J only requires one dose. Canada is the fourth country to approve this vaccine.
Canada has ordered 10 million doses, with options for 28 million more. The first shipments aren’t expected to start arriving until April.
Health Canada found J&J vaccine to be safe and very effective. All approved vaccines have been found to be highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations and death. The overall efficacy of J&J’s vaccine in clinical trials was 66.9%, but this included less severe, moderate symptoms too. That efficacy was higher – 85% – against severe illness.
Experts have cautioned against comparing efficacy for approved vaccines. As Dr. Joss Reimer pointed out earlier this week clinical trials were “done in different populations, at different times, in different countries, with different variants circulating and different amounts of virus circulating.” The clinical trials for J&J and AstraZeneca included participants in South Africa, with the B.1.351 variant circulating.
There is new evidence emerging from real-world data about effectiveness too.
At the end of the day, the message is clear: Get immunized as soon as you’re eligible with whatever vaccine that is available to you.
You can also review Health Canada’s site for more detailed information on the J&J vaccine, including its ingredients and authorization information.
Who will Get AstraZeneca First?
The province expects to receive the first shipment of AstraZeneca/Covishield vaccines late next week, which will kick off clinic- and pharmacy-based immunizations.The initial shipment includes 18,000 doses, many of which expire the first week of April so will need to be used within just a few weeks.
Here is what we know so far:
- About 200 clinics and pharmacies were identified by the province to receive between 50 and 200 doses each out of this first shipment. Not all approved clinics or pharmacies will get doses out of this limited shipment.
- Clinics will receive more information from Manitoba Health over the next few days about the clinical practice guidelines, prioritized medical conditions, and their allotment and delivery date.
- The initial doses must be used with individuals between 50 and 64 years of age (30−64 for First Nations people) who have a designated underlying medical condition that makes them most at risk for severe illness, hospitalization or death.
- Clinics will be expected to offer vaccine to their patients and other individuals who meet the criteria.
The prioritized medical conditions were identified by Public Health after reviewing other jurisdictions and local epidemiology around hospitalizations and deaths. A medical advisory committee with over 30 clinicians reviewed and refined the list. It’s anticipated this list will include individuals on dialysis and those with severe COPD, advanced heart failure, cirrhosis and other high risk chronic conditions. A complete list should be available later today or early next week.
Doctors Manitoba provided advice today about the need for clear communications with the public about the very limited supply that will be available over the next few weeks in doctor’s offices and who it is being prioritized for. We’ve also recommended that all physicians should receive information about how to help patients with prioritized medical conditions access the vaccine.
We understand the next few weeks will bring confusion and challenges, and we anticipate there will be changes to the province’s criteria and plans. We will keep you updated, every step of the way.
Managing Patient Expectations
Even though the province has advised Manitobans not to call for appointments yet, we anticipate your practices may already be getting calls.
To help, we have developed a few resources:
- We have sample voicemail messages, email templates and posters, which you can access on our vaccine campaign page. You will likely want to ensure your reception staff also have key messages.
- Consider referring patients to our vaccine hub, at ManitobaVaccine.ca, to learn more and register for eligibility notifications.
- Refer to our Billing Guide on Vaccine Visits and Injections for information as needed.
We recommend “getting ahead” of the calls early. Consider sending an email to all of your patients explaining your plan on offering the vaccine in the future and let patients know where to get updates. Our vaccine campaign page has an email template you can adapt. You can also refer patients to ManitobaVaccine.ca.
First Nation/Remote Community Vaccination Plan
Public health officials today provided an update on plans to offer the vaccine in all First Nations, as well as other remote and Northern communities. Dr. Marcia Anderson, public health lead of the Manitoba First Nation Pandemic Response Coordination Team, provided an overview today.
The plan will use a community prioritization index to sequence the vaccine rollout for all 63 First Nations, as well as six northern remote communities and 47 Northern Affairs communities. The index considers risks to prioritize vaccine delivery, such as flooding, fire, losing winter road access, or where access is limited to a waterway. It also considers COVID-19 epidemiology, including higher numbers of deaths and outbreaks.
For these communities, all adults will be eligible for their first dose at the same time. This simplifies the immunization rollout while minimizing the number of trips to each community by immunization teams. All adults in these communities should have the opportunity to receive their first dose by mid-May. If individuals in these communities become eligible based on their age before their community’s immunization visit, they continue to have the option to travel to a provincial clinic or pop-up site.
More details will be provided next week on the sequence of community visits. This rollout will use the Moderna vaccine.
People living in Thompson, The Pas, the RM of Kelsey and Flin Flon will continue to access COVID-19 immunizations at the super site in Thompson, or at other mobile clinics or pop-up sites that will be held in the future.
Vaccine Eligibility Auditing
A new emergency order under the Emergency Measures Act is now in force. The Order allows for investigation and confirmation by Shared Health of the eligibility of individual health-care workers who have received a vaccination.
If the investigation confirms an individual provided false information for the purposes of receiving early access to a vaccination, this information can be disclosed to the individual’s employer, professional regulatory body, or to law enforcement. The order is retroactive to Dec. 12, 2020, as the first day of vaccinations in Manitoba.
More information can be found in this vaccine eligibility auditing and reporting memo.