After more than nine months of living with the COVID-19 pandemic, the very first Manitobans will be administered its vaccine Wednesday morning.
In making the announcement, Premier Brian Pallister could not help but smile.
“This is a long-awaited day of hope for Manitoba,” Pallister says. “While we recognize the hope that all Manitobans feel today, and I feel it too, I ask everyone for their patience and understanding at this crucial time as we gradually roll out our immunization program.”
As the province has previously indicated, the first 900 vaccinations will be given to health-care providers.
The initial immunization clinic will launch tomorrow morning at the University of Manitoba’s Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, a site chosen for its capacity to safely house the Pfizer vaccine which must be kept at extremely low temperatures.
“We know that tomorrow’s immunization clinic is a small but critical first step in helping to protect Manitobans most at risk from COVID-19. As more vaccine arrives in the province, we will be ready to deliver, building on this incredibly important first immunization clinic intended to protect our first priority group and save lives.”
Pallister notes each immunization appointment is expected to take about 45 minutes, including a15-minute recovery period to ensure the recipient has no adverse reaction to the drug.
Anyone immunized at this first clinic will receive their second dose at the RBC Convention Centre in Winnipeg, a building that is to become the province’s first ‘super-site’ for vaccine storage, administration, and logistics. That site, and it’s new ultra-low temperature freezer will be operational in January.
Also next month, the province hopes to have installed 60 specialized freezers across the province to meet the storage and distribution demands of the drug. By late January, Manitoba is expected to have the capacity for 1.8 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Meanwhile, the Premier also provided an update on Manitoba’s influenza vaccination campaign. So far, he says, 383,442 doses have been administered province-wide which is about 27.5 per cent of the province’s population. This is roughly 2,200 more vaccinations than last year and the most seasonal flu immunizations ever delivered in the province’s history.
“The success of our seasonal immunization campaign demonstrates the strength of our province’s vaccination system and the willingness of Manitobans to not only protect themselves but their community as well,” remarks Pallister. “The threat of COVID-19 has also reinforced how important immunization is for all of us, as a tool to prevent the spread of serious illness. While we wait for enough COVID-19 vaccine to arrive, we continue to encourage all eligible Manitobans to get their seasonal flu shot as an extra layer of protection this winter.”
There are still more than 100,000 doses of the seasonal flu vaccine available in the province. Manitobans who would like to receive the flu shot can find the nearest location at Flu Shot Finder at www.gov.mb.ca/health/flu/finder.html.