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Coronavirus: Manitoba partnering with doctors, pharmacists for future vaccine delivery

FILE - KINGSTON, ON - JANUARY 12: Pharmacy staff at Kingston Health Sciences Centre prepare doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo by Matthew Manor/KHSC)

The Manitoba government says it wants doctors and pharmacists to help deliver inoculations against COVID-19 as new vaccines are approved for use in Canada.

Health and Seniors Care Minister Heather Stefanson said Tuesday the province anticipates new vaccines that do not need to be frozen could become available in Manitoba “in the days and weeks ahead.”

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“To prepare, we are asking physicians and pharmacists who are interested in providing this kind of care for their patients to take part in the registration process so we can identify and create a list of front-line providers who are able and willing to provide COVID-19 vaccines once they are available,” she said in a release.

Canada has so far approved two vaccines — by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Both vaccines require two doses a number of weeks apart for full efficacy.

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Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine has to be stored at ultra-low temperatures of -70 C and while Moderna’s vaccine doesn’t require quite as cold storage, it does need to be kept in a freezer before being administered.

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Stefanson said the province is getting ready for vaccines that do not require special handling and transport by partnering with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba, the Manitoba College of Family Physicians, the College of Pharmacists of Manitoba, Doctors Manitoba and Pharmacists Manitoba.

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Over the next several weeks, interested clinics and physicians can register with the province and be sent a package of training material in return.

While Stefanson said there is no firm date set for the approval or arrival of any new vaccines, the province has already been working with its existing network of physician and pharmacist flu vaccination partners to prepare.

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That includes working out new workflows, systems and remuneration that will allow the organizations to be compensated for the work needed to distribute COVID-19 vaccines when they are available, she added.

Dr. Jazz Atwal, Manitoba’s deputy chief public health officer, says health providers will later have specific record-keeping software installed.

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“So ensuring that they have that technology to make sure that if a vaccine is given today to Mr. and Mrs. ‘X,’ that that is documented within a database that we get that information back on to provide that quality assurance,” he explained.

But vaccine supply is still expected to be very limited for some time, so the province says doses will be sent to providers based the epidemiology of the community, how many people are served by the clinic, and other factors.

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— With files from Will Reimer and Katie Dangerfield

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

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For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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