January 5, 2021
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Since our last update yesterday, 130 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified. This brings the total case count in Manitoba to 25,374.
- The five-day test positivity rate is unchanged at 10.7%. In Winnipeg, the test positivity rate is 11.5%, down from 11.8%. Testing volumes continue to be lower than the last few months, with 1,264 tests completed yesterday.
- There are currently 4,427 active COVID-19 cases, nearly the same as yesterday when there were 4,423 active cases.
- There are 339 COVID patients in hospital today, down from 340 yesterday. In ICUs, there are 40 COVID patients, down from 41.
- Seven more COVID-related deaths were announced today. So far, 695 Manitobans have died from COVID-19.
You can learn more in today’s public health bulletin.
Meanwhile, Premier Brian Pallister shuffled his cabinet today and we have a new Health Minister. Heather Stefanson, the MLA for Tuxedo and former Minister of Families, takes over as Minister of Health and Seniors. The health portfolio has actually been split, with a more junior minister appointed to oversee mental health, wellness and recovery. Audrey Gordon, MLA for Southdale, takes on this new role.
Vaccine Webinar Tomorrow
Do you want to know more about the COVID-19 vaccines and plans for the immunization rollout? Join us this Wednesday at 6:30PM for an exclusive Doctors Manitoba webinar.
Provincial Vaccine Leads and Medical Officers of Health Dr. Tim Hilderman and Dr. Joss Reimer will provide a vaccine update and take questions from physicians. Their presentation will include:
- Information about the vaccines and the review and approval process
- Overview of priority population groups for immunization
- Immunization roll-out plans
- Physician role in the immunization campaign
When: Wednesday, January 6 at 6:30PM
Register: Click here to register
You can submit your questions in advance for Dr. Reimer and Dr. Hilderman during the registration process. Live questions will also be accepted during the webinar.
The province again expanded eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine today, with appointments still available this week.
New groups who are eligible include health care workers with direct patient contact who work:
- On designated COVID-19 hospital wards (no age restrictions)
- In a lab handling COVID-19 specimens (no age restrictions)
- In provincial or federal correctional facilities (no age restrictions).
Criteria for those working in other settings has not changed. Physicians working in the following areas are also eligible now for immunization;
- Critical care units (any age)
- Acute care facilities (hospitals) born on or before December 31, 1975
- Long-term care facilities born on or before December 31, 1975
- COVID-19 immunization clinics or testing sites (any age)
We have heard from several physicians seeking more clarity about the provincially-set eligibility criteria. Doctors Manitoba does not have any additional official information beyond what is posted on the provincial government’s vaccine eligibility page. We understand the provincial communications on the vaccine have been frustrating for some physicians, whether it’s confusion about who is eligible or inaccurate text message reminders. We are working hard everyday to bring physicians’ concerns and suggestions to provincial officials, and we appreciate your support as work with these officials to improve the process. Please continue to send us your questions by emailing email@example.com or attend our webinar tomorrow (Wednesday) with provincial vaccine leads as there will be time for questions.
The province continues to gradually expand eligibility criteria on a near-daily basis. We are tweeting out updates on eligibility as we receive them, and you can also access the current criteria on the province’s COVID-19 vaccine site.
Immunizations are now taking place at the RBC Convention Centre.
Pace of Vaccine Rollout
Some are expressing frustration at the slow pace of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. The province confirmed today that 4,292 people have been immunized so far in Manitoba.
The Prime Minister expressed his frustrations today: “I think Canadians, including me, are frustrated to see vaccines in freezers and not in people’s arms.” The Prime Minister has promised that there will be enough vaccine doses by September for every Canadian who wants to be immunized.
Canada has received over 420,000 doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines so far, but only 148,000 or 35% have been administered. This means fewer than half of one percent of Canadians have been immunized so far. Israel leads the world with almost 16% of their population immunized so far according to a vaccine tracker maintained by Oxford University.
In Manitoba, less than 18% of the nearly 20,000 doses received have been administered according to the Canadian COVID-19 tracker, the lowest of any province.
Today’s provincial vaccine update notes that there are 10,800 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on hand. There are also 7,300 doses of the Moderna vaccine, the majority of which are set aside to address First Nation priorities, with the remaining 2,000 doses earmarked for the personal care home immunization campaign slated to start next week.
Do you want to help immunize?
Physicians interested in helping administer the vaccine are invited to offer to help through Doctors Manitoba.
At this point, the immunization rollout is being coordinated by provincial authorities, with plans to administer the vaccine in clinics expected to occur in a later phase. Physicians, along with other health professionals, are being recruited to help with the immunization rollout.
You can submit your offer to help using our online form. Doctors Manitoba will share your information with provincial officials who will follow up with physicians if and when additional help is required. More immunization sites will be established in the weeks ahead, so callbacks for help may not occur right away.