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COVID Updates

COVID Surveillance Update

Public Health posts weekly COVID-19 Surveillance Reports on Thursdays. This week’s report covers the week ending October 15 and shows​increased activity compared to last week. Highlights include:

  • Severe outcomes from COVID-19 are increasing. There were 103 hospital admissions, up from 73 last week. This includes 14 ICU admissions, the same as last week. Weekly hospital admissions last peaked at 264 in the week ending April 16.
  • There were 6 deaths recorded, the same as last week. There have now been 2,199 deaths related to COVID-19.
  • There were 402 lab-confirmed cases reported in Manitoba over the last week, up from 341 last week.
  • The test positivity rate was 29.6%, up from 24.1% last week.

The updated wastewater surveillance dashboard for Winnipeg is showing sharp increases in two of three sites monitored, and a slight increase in Brandon. 

New emerging variants have been making international headlines, primarily XBB and BQ.1.1. Both are Omicron sub-variants. According to the World Health Organization, there are 300+ Omicron sublineage variants circulating globally right now, though most are BA.5 sublineages (see short video here).

Across Canada, monitoring for variants of concern shows 88% of sequenced samples are BA.5‑related and 11% are BA.4‑related.

As people move more activities indoors with fall and winter weather arriving, and respiratory viruses start circulating more broadly, experts are predicting COVID circulation to increase. This is leading to renewed calls for people to get their COVID booster shot and flu shot, to stay home when they are ill, and to consider masking when in poorly ventilated or crowded areas.

Help us get physicians concerns to the public!

Can you take two minutes to take our quick snap poll about your vaccination status? We are hearing from physicians concerned about lower uptake on COVID booster shots, and concern about flu shot uptake too. Manitobans trust physicians about medical issues, so we are doing a quick survey about your views, which will help us to plan a public update about preparing for fall and winter when it comes to a potential​“twindemic” of COVID and influenza.

Take the Twindemic Snap Poll Here

Answers to Your Vaccine Questions

We’ve received several questions recently from physicians about COVID booster shots. We have worked with Manitoba Public Health to answer your questions below.

Main Message
With an increase in COVID expected this fall and winter, a bivalent booster is recommended for everyone age 12 and older. Generally speaking, an individual should be offered a bivalent booster if it has been six months since their last vaccine dose or infection. However, an individual can receive a bivalent booster if a minimum of three months has passed since their last dose or is fully recovered from their last infection. It is likely COVID circulation is already increasing in Manitoba, so offering a shot earlier than six months may be the right choice depending on your patient’s health history and other factors.

To receive a bivalent booster, an individual must first have completed their primary series. A patient 18 years and older can receive either Pfizer or Moderna bivalent booster, regardless of the vaccine used for their primary series. The Pfizer bivalent vaccine is the only bivalent product authorized for those who are 12 – 17 years of age.

Which Booster Should I Offer Patients?
There are now two Omicron bivalent boosters approved: Moderna’s bivalent booster was designed to target BA.1 and Pfizer’s for BA.4 and BA.5. However, at this point there is no evidence to suggest that one works better than the other, so you can offer either to your patients who are age 18+. For patients aged 12 – 17, only the Pfizer bivalent booster is approved. 

While BA.5 is circulating more than BA.1 right now, both bivalent boosters are expected to strengthen and broaden protection against Omicron infections, especially protection against severe illness from Omicron sub-variants. This is good news as new Omicron sub-variants are emerging.

What’s the difference between the two boosters?

Moderna’s bivalent booster is approved for ages 18+. It was designed to target both the original strain and Omicron BA.1. This booster was approved using clinical data. A dose consists of 0.5mL containing 50 mcg of mRNA.

Pfizer’s bivalent booster is approved for ages 12+. It was designed to target both the original strain and Omicron BA.4 and BA.5. This booster was approved using preclinical data and indirect clinical data from a similar bivalent vaccine candidate. A dose consists of 0.3mL containing 30mcg of mRNA.

What’s the recommended interval?
Generally, a fall bivalent booster is recommended six months after the last dose or infection.

Six months is recommended after the last dose of a COVID vaccine for optimal protection, however it can be offered at a minimum of three months between doses. According to NACI: ” A shorter interval of at least 3 months may be considered, particularly in the context of heightened epidemiological risk, evolving epidemiology and operational considerations for the efficient deployment of fall immunization programs. However, based on what is known at this time, it is not expected that a booster dose be routinely provided every 3 months.”

If someone had a past infection, a six-month wait is recommended though they can receive their booster sooner as long as they have fully recovered.

At-a-glance overview of COVID vaccine information
Public Health has produced two excellent at-a-glance tables we recommend physicians print or bookmark:

  • Vaccine recommendations by age: The recommended mRNA immunization schedule lays out recommendations for different age groups for both the primary series and booster doses. You can view it here.
  • Summary by vaccine product: this table summarizes the various vaccine products currently available in Manitoba, including authorized age groups, cap/​label colour intervals, links to product monograph, and information about dose, injection volume and dilution. You can view it here.

Doctors Manitoba Gains International Attention on Physician Health

Doctors Manitoba was invited to present about our Community of Practice project at the International Conference on Physician Health, held last week in Florida.

In addition to providing a range of personal supports for physicians and their families, DRMB is actively working on ways to address the root causes of physician burnout, a WHO-recognized occupational health syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress.

One way we are working at the organizational level to improve physician well-being is through our work on the Physician Health and Wellness Community of Practice Project. This project is a relationship building collaboration with physicians, health care administrators, and other community stakeholders in three pilot regions. Each Community of Practice has worked together to develop an evidence-informed and locally meaningful action plan to improve physician health in their region. Action plans have now been finalized and will be communicated soon. 

There was strong interest from colleagues in other provinces and countries. Our team also made excellent connections to explore other physician health and wellness initiatives we may want to import and adapt into Manitoba. You can view our presentation here.

You can also learn more about our Community of Practice initiative in a recent CMA Podcast called Physicians First. Listen now.

Nominations Open for CMA President-Elect

It’s Manitoba’s turn to elect the next President-Elect for the Canadian Medical Association!

The President of the CMA — elected by members from a different province or territory every year — is the primary spokesperson for the CMA’s work. They represent the CMA in the media, as well as to provincial and territorial medical associations, government and other stakeholder organizations. They serve on the CMA Board of Directors for three years consecutively as President-Elect (2023 – 24), President (2024 – 25) and immediate Past-President (2025 – 26). 

The CMA is committed to leadership that reflects the diversity of the medical profession and the communities we serve. We encourage eligible members of all backgrounds and experiences to put themselves forward. While submitting their candidacy, applicants are invited to self-identify with various attributes, including age, gender, sexual identity, ethnicity/​race, indigeneity and disability.

For more information on the selection of the CMA President-Elect, click here.

Applications must be submitted by November 22.

If you have any questions or need additional information, email elections@​cma.​ca. You can also contact us at Doctors Manitoba by emailing general@​doctorsmanitoba.​ca.

Fantastic Physicians

Three Manitoba Physicians are included in this year’s list of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada! The winners include:

  • Dr. Bittoo Malik, a radiologist working in Dauphin who is also the Parkland District Representative on the Doctors Manitoba Board of Directors. Dr. Malik is a tireless advocate of health equity in medical imaging. She is described by her colleagues as a powerful presence and determined force, demonstrating innovative leadership and transformative approach. A forward thinker, she has helped shape the evolution of trauma and stroke imaging and assessment. She is recognized for her inclusive perspective and unwavering commitment to inter-professional mentorship and collaboration in patient care.
  • Dr. Marcia Anderson, Vice-Dean of Indigenous Health, Social Justice and Anti-Racism with the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences. Her recent work includes public health leadership for the Manitoba First Nations Pandemic Response and Coordination Team, leading the development and implementation of a process to collect racial, ethnic and Indigenous identifiers during COVID, and collaboratively leading the development and implementation of the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences Disruption of All Forms of Racism Policy. Dr. Anderson is also the Doctors Manitoba 2022 Physician of the Year!
  • Dr. Denise Koh is the Chief Occupational Medical Officer of Health and a public health specialist. She is also a hypnotherapist, life coach, and speaker. She founded MedResRx and the MedResRx Hypnotherapy App based on her successful practice and runs her signature hypnotherapy-based Burnout Blaster Bootcamp and other programs through the app. She won Canadian Occupational Safety’s 2022 Top Woman in Safety Award for her exceptional pandemic and community outreach work. 

Offer More Inclusive and Affirming Care in Your Practice

Winnipeg’s Rainbow Resource Centre presents Planning With Pride, November 13: an immersive, virtual learning experience focusing on the unique journey of 2SLGBTQ+ older adults. We will focus on the intersections of queer identities and advanced care planning, advanced illness, long term care, end of life, and grief. Plus, it’s a great way to develop partnerships to help your practice achieve the best affirming care. Join for this unique opportunity to meet the experts and community leaders advancing the care of 2SLGBTQ+ older adults. Planning starts November 1. Learn more and register now!

Health in the News

Recent stories about health and medicine in the news:

Making Responsible Investing the Norm (Sponsored)

The following content is from MD Financial / Scotiabank

We believe that considering environment, societal, and governance factors (ESG) not only aligns with our clients’ values – to make a positive difference in the world – but is prudent investment management that helps us to achieve the financial goals of physicians and their families. Learn why responsible investing is important to us. Read More!


Here are some important and popular recent updates, in case you missed them:

Upcoming Events

Upcoming events are always listed on our events calendar.

Featured Events

Inclusive Leadership Workshop — November 1 — 6:30pm

Leadership has a measurable impact on the wellness and satisfaction of teams. So, too, does a physicians’ experience of equity and inclusion. Doctors Manitoba and the University of Manitoba, Office of Leadership Education for Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, are continuing their Joint Leadership Education Series to support physician leadership pathways that benefit everyone. 

In this interactive, 90 minute workshop, participants will begin to learn, understand, and converse on leadership through an inclusive lens. In a crisis (and far too often healthcare and medicine is required to navigate crises), leadership is often driven by a sense of urgency. Leaders find themselves looking inward with a narrow focus and surrounding themselves with those who share similar values and ideas. This session will explore how to maintain inclusive leadership and create an environment that fosters inclusion throughout a crisis. The workshop will delve into three components that are rooted in constructive tensions that inclusive leaders can leverage to bring balance, predictability, and moderation to their teams and organization.

Raising Awareness — Avoiding Unauthorized Health Products Online — Five Session Options in November.

This webinar is intended to increase awareness of the prevalence of unauthorized and/​or adulterated health products in the online market place. This webinar will also provide resources to health care professionals in order to guide patients to legitimate sources of compliant health products.

Other Events