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COVID-19 vaccine eligibility lowered to 18 for all Manitobans

More than 50 per cent of New Brunswickers over the age of 12, which is more than 350,000 people, have now received at least one dose of a vaccine. Getty Images

All adult Manitobans who want the vaccine to protect against COVID-19 are now eligible to get one.

Manitoba opened up all vaccine appointments at pop-up clinics and supersites to those 18 and older Wednesday.

Vaccination appointments can be made by calling 1-844-626-8222 (1-844-MAN-VACC) or visiting the province’s website.

Manitoba will be the second province to allow all adults to be vaccinated, behind Alberta, which is currently booking people ages 12 and up.

Read more: Vaccine eligibility drops to 24 in Manitoba, premier says 18 and up will be eligible Wednesday

As of Wednesday, nearly 50 per cent of adult Manitobans have been vaccinated, said Vaccine Task Force co-lead Dr. Johanu Botha.

The province says it hopes to have 70 per cent of people aged 12 and older in Manitoba with their first immunization by June 6.

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While the province is ready to drop eligibility to 12 and older, it will do so after appointments slow down for the 18-plus cohort, said Botha.

“We’re still relying heavily now on the Pfizer shipments to get us to the bulk of the shipments,” said Botha, but once First Nations are vaccinated, the Moderna vaccines can then be more heavily utilized at the supercentres.

See the vaccine technical briefing data below:

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Waiting times at supersites have been reduced to nearly zero, and those making appointments by phone are waiting about eight minutes to do so, said officials.

Botha said he’s not concerned, from an operations perspective, about the number of appointments booked in the past few days.

Second doses

As for second doses, Botha said May 22 is still the target to open up eligibility. He also said those who have received one type of vaccine may be able to switch to a different kind.

More information on that will come in the following days, he said.

“We are waiting for clinical direction on that.”

Dr. Reimer said those who will be able to book their second doses include:

  • receiving hemodialysis OR peritoneal dialysis
  • liver cirrhosis due to any cause OR portal hypertension
  • severe heart failure
  • cancers including solid tumor and blood (leukemia/lymphoma) who will or are receiving chemotherapy, immunosuppressive therapy orimmune checkpoint inhibitors (e.g., nivolumab, pembrolizumab)
  • receiving one or more of the following medications: B cell therapies (e.g., rituximab, ocrelizumab), cyclophosphamide, alemtuzumab, calcineurin inhibitors (cyclosporine, tacrolimus), chronic dose prednisone >=20mg/day, mycophenolate, and JAK inhibitors (e.g., tofacitinib)
  • have received or are on the list to receive a solid organ transplant
  • have received a stem cell transplant OR CAR-T therapy at least 3 months ago.
  • Down syndrome
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • individuals receiving home care ≥ 4 times/week OR receiving 24/7 Community Living Disability Services supports (or as per family physician determination of equivalent levels of family support).

AstraZeneca

The province appears to have no plans for halting AstraZeneca doses, which was done in Ontario recently.

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In fact, Dr. Joss Reimer, the head of the COVID-19 vaccination task force, said Wednesday the province will change how it handles AstraZeneca vaccines in that any additional doses the province receives will be held for second doses.

Reimer cited potential supply issues as the reason behind the change in plans for AstraZeneca.

However, that doesn’t mean that people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine can book a second dose, said Reimer.

“Well, we are not booking any second doses right now,” she said.

Also, research shows that waiting 12 weeks between the AstraZeneca doses is resulting in the best efficacy rates, she added.

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