Manitobans can now book COVID-19 vaccination appointments online.
Officials from the province’s vaccination implementation task force say at first, the online option will only be available for those looking to book appointments at one of the province’s five super site vaccination clinics.
The booking site, which went live Wednesday morning, will require an email address and health card number for those looking to make an appointment.
The province’s call centre will continue to take appointments for the super sites, as well as for pop-up vaccination sites, according to officials.
Meanwhile, health officials again dropped the age eligibility for those able to get shots Wednesday. The province will now vaccinate people aged 73 and older and First Nations people aged 53 and older. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months.
Dr. Joss Reimer, lead of Manitoba’s vaccination implementation task force said with more doses of vaccine arriving in the province, she expects the age eligibility to keep falling and said there’s a possibility Manitoba could be opening up shots for everyone aged 65 and up as soon as next week.
“We’ve been really fortunate to be able to keep dropping the age,” said Reimer.
“I anticipate that probably early next week, we’ll be talking about people who are 65-plus.”
Eligibility has also been expanded to include nearly all health-care workers, including those who do not provide direct patient care.
All people who work in congregate living facilities are also now able to get vaccinated. Immunization teams are also visiting these facilities to give residents a dose.
The province is expecting demand for the vaccines to be quite high. The government released results Wednesday from a combination of opinion surveys and online consultations done in recent months.
Nine per cent of thousands of respondents were classified as skeptical or hesitant about getting the vaccine. More than 80 per cent were labelled as already vaccinated, keen to get a shot, or likely to seek one.
“I am really encouraged by that,” Reimer said.
“If we can get 80 per cent of Manitobans immunized, we’re going to be in a completely different situation than we were at this time last year.”
Reimer has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. There are super sites in cities where people can get vaccines and pop-up clinics have begun in rural and northern Manitoba communities for people who are eligible.
Manitoba has already indicated it would opt for a four-month interval between doses.
As of Tuesday the province says 113,275 shots have been given across Manitoba, including 76,612 first doses and 36,663 second doses.
Provincial data shows Manitoba has so far received 179,720 doses of all three vaccines approved for use in Canada. The province says it expects to receive an additional 14,040 doses of Pfizer vaccine this week.
–With files from The Canadian Press
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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