In today’s message you will find:

Situation Update

Manitoba has passed a grim milestone today, logging 1,000 COVID-related deaths since the pandemic began.
Since our last update on Monday:

  • Daily cases down: Another 691 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified over the last two days, including 364 today. The lower incidence of new cases yesterday and today could be reflective of results from lower testing volumes seen on the weekend. It is too early to draw conclusions about a downward trend in new daily cases. The total case count in Manitoba now stands at 43,143.
  • Test positivity up: The five-day test positivity rate is 12.1%, up from 11.6%. It is 14.4% in Winnipeg, up from 13.8%.
  • Active cases up: There are 3,940 active COVID-19 cases province-wide, up from our last report of 3,771.
  • Hospitalizations increasing: There are 221 people in hospital due to COVID-19, up from 215. This includes 62 people in ICU, up from 60.
  • Three new deaths related to COVID-19 were identified, all reported today. Two of the deaths were linked to the B.1.1.7 variant of concern. The total number of deaths is 1,000.

All Adults Eligible

As of today, all adults in Manitoba, age 18+, are eligible for a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine. This is about a week ahead of the latest schedule from the province. This significantly simplifies the vaccine eligibility, and eliminates any geographic, occupation or other prioritization factors. 

Youth ages 12 to 17 should be eligible by May 21 (only Pfizer is approved so far for ages 12 to 17). For children under 12, studies are underway to confirm the safety and efficacy of vaccines.

We recommend you encourage patients who have children under 18 to register for eligibility notifications at Man​i​to​baVac​cine​.ca using our Eligibility Checker. You can share this on social media, on your practice website, or in emails to patients or parents. 

Do you want to know when your child becomes eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine? You can register to for same-day email or text alerts using the Eligibility Checker at Man​i​to​baVac​cine​.ca, a site created by Manitoba’s physicians. 

(Link to image to use online)

Vaccine Updates

With Pfizer shipments increasing, the provincial vaccine task force now predicts there should be enough vaccine doses for 70% of Manitobans age 12 and up to receive their first dose by June 9. Over 145,000 appointments booked from now to end of May, with more available for booking.

As of today, 46.8% of adults have received at least one dose, which equates to 36% of the whole population. Over 90% of those age 70 and older have received at least one dose, as well as 80% of those in their 60s. Uptake drops to 58% for those in their 50s, but their eligibility is more recent. Our research shows younger adults are in less of a rush and more hesitant about the vaccines, and that getting the vaccine in a doctor’s office helps to increase the likelihood of immunization.
The Dauphin super site vaccine clinic opened on Monday. New locations will open in Steinbach on May 18 and in Gimli on May 29

Second Dose Plans

Appointments for second doses will start soon. The province has said individuals should be able to start booking their second dose starting May 22. This will start with individuals with high risk medical conditions or who are immunocompromised. A list of prioritized conditions for second dose appointments is now posted online, and includes patients receiving dialysis, with serious conditions such as liver cirrhosis or severe heart failure, patients receiving chemotherapy or other immunosuppressing medications, and other conditions. 

After that, second doses bookings will be opened based on the date the first dose was received.
The vaccine task force anticipates that second doses should be complete by mid- to late-July for everyone who wants one. This is much faster than first doses because larger volumes of supplies are now arriving. 

AstraZeneca Update

Following a change in Ontario, Manitoba is adjusting its approach to the AstraZeneca/​Covishield vaccine in response to emerging evidence about the risk of VITT and ongoing supply challenges.

First doses can continue to be administered, but only to people who might not otherwise be immunized with mRNA vaccine at other sites, and only to those who meet the AstraZeneca eligiblity (age 40+ or age 30 – 39 with high risk condition). Otherwise, most doses of this vaccine will now be held for second-dose, so people who have received their first dose of this vaccine will be able to receive their second dose within the recommended time frames. Recent studies have shown that this vaccine can be more effective if second doses are administered more than 12 weeks after the first, a longer dose interval than originally recommended.

A shipment of 23,800 doses of AstraZeneca is expected next week, but will not be distributed to medical clinics or pharmacies until the province confirms its second dose plan. 

Research is underway to confirm the efficacy of a mixed vaccine” schedule, which could see some patients who received AstraZeneca for their first dose receive an mRNA vaccine for their second dose. 

The initial shipment of Johnson & Johnson vaccine is still being held by Health Canada for quality assurance checks. 

The mRNA pilot is wrapping up and has been a success. The pilot involved just six clinics and some pharmacies sharing 2,300 doses. We hope this demonstrates the ability of medical clinics to safely handle delicate mRNA vaccines and use them quickly. We will be pressing to expand this pilot to a weekly vaccine delivery schedule as soon as possible. 

Influencer Campaign Encourages Young First Nations People

A new Protect Our People MB campaign launched today encouraging vaccine confidence and uptake among young First Nations people in Manitoba. The grassroots campaign is being supported by a number of First Nations organizations, including Southern Chiefs’ Organization Inc. (SCO), Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO), Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC), Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin Inc. (KIM), the First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba (FNHSSM) and the Manitoba government. 

Protect Our People MB focuses on those aged 18 to 35, primarily through social media platforms, in partnership with recognized First Nation influencers and trusted community leaders. Influencers involved in the social media project to date include Michael Redhead Champagne, Michelle Chubb, Ryan McMahon, Sherry McKay, William Prince, Brandi Woodhouse, Leonard Sumner and Ken Bighetty. 

Dr. Marcia Anderson, a medical lead with the First Nations Pandemic Response Coordinating Team is playing an integral role in the campaign, helping to debunk misinformation and myths and provide facts and support about the vaccines. 

Physicians can help share the initiative online, including the campaign website, and their posts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Nurses Week

This week is National Nursing Week! Doctors Manitoba has shown our support for nurses on behalf of the medical profession, and we encourage you to do so too in your practice. 

I am inspired by nurses’ resiliency, compassion, strength, and steadfast dedication to your patients. We are truly grateful for everything you do, and couldn’t ask for a finer group of individuals to stand in solidarity with on the front-lines of this pandemic. - Dr. Kristjan Thompson, President of Doctors Manitoba

Sick Time, Paid Vaccine Leave, Business Grants

Over the last several days, the Manitoba government has rolled our a series of supports for small businesses and workers affected by the third wave of the pandemic and to support vaccine access. These include:

  • Paid vaccine leave: Requiring employers to provide workers with up to three hours of paid leave to receive their COVID-19 vaccination (see news release for more details).
  • Paid sick leave: Addressing gaps in paid sick leave to help support individuals to stay home when they should be isolating or recovering from COVID-19. Manitoba Pandemic Sick Leave program will provide employers with up to $600 per employee for up to five full days of COVID-19 related sick leave, which do not have to be taken consecutively. Eligible sick leave related to COVID-19 includes testing, vaccinations and side effects, self-isolation due to COVID-19 symptoms, or care for a loved one in any of the previously mentioned circumstances. Employers can apply for the assistance starting May 14, and the program is in place until September 25. (Access program page for more details).
  • New business support: another round of $5,000 Bridge Grants will be available to businesses and organizations facing disruptions due to pandemic restrictions (more information from program page).