Manitobans will soon be able to get Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations at local pharmacies and doctors’ offices.
Starting this week, health officials say roughly 5,000 doses of both mRNA vaccines will be sent to some 25 medical clinics and pharmacies across the province.
Until now only the AstraZeneca vaccine has been available at the sites.
At a technical briefing Wednesday morning, officials from the province’s vaccine implementation task force said the shots sent to clinics and pharmacies can be used for both first and second doses.
Going forward, health officials say a weekly allocation of both Moderna and Pfizer will continue to be available at the more than 500 participating doctors’ offices and pharmacies in Manitoba, although locations and vaccine availability may vary.
A map outlining pharmacies and medical clinics where vaccine is available can be found on the provincie’s website.
Vaccine task force logistics lead Johanu Botha said supersites are becoming less popular for first-dosers, and more second shot appointments are opening up as a result.
Eligibility for second-dose appointments was lowered Wednesday to include anyone who received their first shot on or before April 20.
Botha said his team is getting creative — using new methods — to get shots into arms. As well as offering mRNA shots outside super sites, he said mobile vaccination teams are being utilized to reach those who may not be able to get to a clinic otherwise.
A pilot of the program started in Winnipeg this week, and will see health officials head out in vans working to reach disadvantaged communities, Botha added.
Both said community organizations will also be able to work with the province to provide outreach and host a pop-up clinic, using their rapport with the public in their area to quash vaccine hesitancy.
Earlier this week health officials announced those who received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for their first dose can get either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for their second shot.
All Indigenous people and those with specific health conditions are also eligible to get a second dose.
All Manitobans 12 and over are eligible to book their first-dose appointments.
Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) also updated its guidance this week, recommending that approved COVID-19 vaccines can be safely mixed and matched in most scenarios.
It is not recommending AstraZeneca after a first shot of Pfizer or Moderna because of safety concerns and limited data on the use of this combination.
People who have received a first dose of an mRNA vaccine should be offered the same vaccine for their second dose, NACI said. But mRNA vaccines can be interchangeable if the same product is not readily available for the second dose, it added.
Manitoba health officials have said mixing mRNA will be something they will look at should delays in the delivery of Moderna vaccine make the move necessary.
Health officials have said those making appointments need to know which vaccine they first received, and the date the dose was given. Personal vaccine information can be found on Shared Health’s website or by calling the local public health office.
Appointments can be made by calling 1-844-626-8222 (1-844-MAN-VACC) or visiting the province’s website.
–With files from Saba Aziz
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.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, visit our coronavirus page.