Manitoba to scale back hours at COVID-19 vaccine super sites

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Manitoba is scaling back hours at COVID-19 vaccine super sites across the province amid waning demand for the shots.

Starting in August, days and hours of operations will be adjusted at the large-scale vaccine clinics in order to shift focus on more precise methods of getting shots into arms, says Johanu Botha, operations, logistics and planning lead from Manitoba’s vaccine implementation task force.

Read more: Manitoba reports 23 new COVID-19 cases, no deaths

“Our supersites are still an important part of the rollout, for now, but as the vaccine campaign evolves, the demand on our supersites and clinics are changing,” he explained at a Wednesday press conference.

“We are continuing our shift from the focus on volume towards access and accessibility.”

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After months of higher demand for vaccines — that at times saw tens of thousands of doses administered at single super sites a day — Botha said the province started to see a plateau in interest start roughly three weeks ago.

Many of the super sites have increasingly been taking walk-ins without a prior appointment in recent weeks.

On Wednesday the province said thousands of Moderna and Pfizers appointments are currently open and available to book and the province’s largest super site at the RBC Convention Centre in Winnipeg will be accepting walk-ins everyday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. until the end of July with both vaccines available.

Read more: Vaccine divide causing strife in some Manitoba families, friend groups

Both shots will also be available without an appointment at the Selkirk super site all day Wednesday.

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Both said while the province will be able to quickly change course on the scaling back of super sites if needed, the province’s main focus now is reaching those who haven’t been able to get to a larger clinic, or may be hesitant to get the vaccine at all.

The province’s five urban Indigenous clinics continue to offer vaccinations, for instance, and a plan to provide shots at provincial parks and campgrounds will continue through the summer.

Botha said more than 40,000 doses have also been distributed to community-hosted clinics, and roughly 8,000 first doses made available in 16 communities last week alone.

“The vaccine is here, we have more than enough supply — we have a dose for everyone who wants one,” he said.

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“We want to make it as easy as possible.”

Read more: Can I get a COVID-19 vaccine yet in Manitoba? How to book it and where to go

Meanwhile Botha said Wednesday Manitoba is close to meeting the next vaccination milestone for reopening that is set to begin on Labour Day weekend in early September.

As of Wednesday 79.1 per cent of eligible Manitobans 12 and over have received one dose and 67.8 per cent have received two shots, according to a provincial site tracking vaccinations.

So far, Manitoba has reached each milestone in its plan ahead of schedule.

–With files from The Canadian Press

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

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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.

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