The province says that they have the ability to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine quickly, yet over 5,000 doses remain unclaimed.

A limited set of criteria has been released of who will receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, focussing on those on the front line of COVID-19 healthcare. No other anticipated priority groups for the Pfizer vaccine have been released as the province is only releasing the list of those eligible as vaccines become available. During a Wednesday press conference, Premier Brian Pallister says he expects age will be a factor in the groups.

In total, 5,165 people have been immunized using the Pfizer vaccine. Manitoba has received 22,230 doses of this company's vaccine.

A provincial spokesperson says 7,000 of the 22,230 doses arriving earlier than expected and will be used during next week's appointments.

This week, 5,250 vaccination appointments are scheduled. Next week 6,650 appointments are scheduled, with 5,400 of those appointments for the first dose of the vaccine.

The province says the appointments will use its entire vaccine supply along with 1,835 doses from the early shipment trickling into the count.

This leaves 5,165 remaining doses that the province does not have plans for.

Dr. Jos Reimer, a member of Manitoba's COVID-19 Vaccine Implementation Task Force, says the vaccination plans can be quickly ramped up if more doses suddenly become available, but both the doctor and Premier say it is dependent on the federal government's speed to release vaccines. 

"I can confirm that if we had more doses, we would be able to provide more doses," Reimer says.

Reimer says the team does not know when the vaccines arrive but when they do, they are prepared to receive the doses as soon as they land on Manitoban soil. She says appointments are made available once they have the physical dose in their possession. 

The RBC Convention Centre is the first super site for the vaccines, but one in Brandon is set to open, and by February, Thompson will have one to serve the area.

The province says the average Manitoban may need to wait until the fall to receive a vaccine. 

The current list of those eligible are people who:

• work in critical care units (intensive care units only, no age restrictions);
• work in long-term care facilities, born on or before Dec. 31, 1975;
• work in acute care facilities, born on or before Dec. 31, 1975;
• assigned to a COVID-19 immunization clinic or designated COVID-19 testing site (no age restrictions);
• work in a laboratory handling COVID-19 specimens (no age restrictions and may include some individuals who do not have direct contact with patients, based on their role);
• work on a designated COVID-19 hospital ward (no age restrictions); and
• work in provincial or federal correctional facilities (no age restrictions).

There are over a dozen COVID-19 wards:

• Bethesda Hospital – Rehab;
• Boundary Trails Health Centre – Medicine;
• Brandon Regional Hospital – 500 West;
• Grace Hospital – Medicine – 5S;
• Grace Hospital – Medicine – 5N;
• Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg – Surgery – GD2;
• Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg – Surgery – GD3;
• Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg – Mental Health – PY1S;
• Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg – Mental Health – PY3S;
• Portage District General Hospital – Medicine;
• St. Boniface Hospital – Medicine – E6;
• St. Boniface Hospital – Surgery – AGY-6;
• Selkirk Regional Health Centre – Medicine – second floor; and
• Victoria General Hospital – Medicine – 5North.

Over the course of 28 days, all personal care home residents in Manitoba will be vaccinated for COVID-19.

The province is planning to begin "putting needles into arms" next week for seniors in care. Seven care homes are set to be the first ones to receive the Moderna doses. A total of 1,157 people are estimated to receive the vaccinations.

The first homes are:

• Boyne Lodge, Carman, Southern Health–Santé Sud;
• Charleswood Care Centre, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority;
• Hillcrest Place, Brandon, Prairie Mountain Health;
• Oakview Place, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority;
• St. Paul’s Residence, The Pas, Northern Health Region;
• Tudor House, Selkirk, Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority; and
• Tuxedo Villa, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority

These homes were chosen based on the number of residents in the home and if the residents share rooms. 

Reimer says that vaccinating seniors in care homes will take more time to do, as there are additional challenges such as changing PPE and going from room to room. She says in some instances, residents will require a familiar face with them. 

"We intend to go to those personal care homes, even if they are currently having an outbreak and will be using precautions if the outbreak is ongoing," Reimer says.

The teams going to the sites will vary in size.

On Wednesday, the province said 2,000 of the Moderna doses were going out next week, not the Tuesday total of 1,157. The province says the remaining 843 doses are being held on to with the intention of using them sometime during the 28-day rollout.

If displaying COVID-19 symptoms, the resident will not be vaccinated at that time. If a resident has had COVID-19, they will still be eligible for the shot.

As for seniors not in care homes, they will have to wait.

"We have a seniors population outside of personal care homes that I am sure will be a priority but I won't decide on the priorities," Premier Brian Pallister says, stating that decision is in the hands of the province's COVID-19 team.