Following the lead of First Nations communities, the province is shifting to new methods with their COVID-19 vaccinations.
Instead of standing in line, the province is switching gears and asking Manitobans to sit in chairs, letting the vaccinators come to them. This is something being done on First Nations communities and recently at the Morden and Winnipeg super sites.
"More and more Manitobans are being immunized every day," Dr. Johanu Botha says.
Over the weekend the RBC Centre's vaccine super site in Winnipeg saw delays. Botha says this is being fixed with hiring moves.
They also are following the First Nation Immunization Task Force's lead by switching to recording the immunizations on paper and later imputing it online, finding it quicker than imputing the data online at the same time as vaccinating.
As the age of Manitobans receiving the vaccine lowers, more will be working, finding it difficult to find time in the Winnipeg super centre's schedule. This is currently an issue with nurses who work long hours and struggle to book an available appointment when they are not working.
"Of course, we cannot accommodate every personal schedule, but I think the best way we can do it is by opening more and more appointments so that individuals can ideally find a slot for them," Botha says, noting that the more vaccines that arrive te more appointments they can make.
"The supersites, the plan at the moment is to have them run during the day. Now they do run for very long hours and we aim for them, ultimately when we are flushed with supply, to run every single day, so certainly we hope that would allow individuals to be able to make appointments."
The RBC Centre's hours in Winnipeg are 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Botha and Dr. Joss Reimer say that are working to make the sites easy to access. He says there are populations within the province for whom a supersite is not ideal, looking at if things such as FIT teams and pop-ups will benefit certain populations.
Reimer says Manitobans experience a variety of barriers to healthcare and hopes getting a vaccine is not one of them.
"We know that this can be a challenge, particularly for people working multiple jobs, and that is why it has been important to have options open on the weekends and the evenings," Reimer says. "It is not just time that is a barrier. transportation can be difficult for some people, or even just feeling that the space is safe for some individuals."
She says this is something they are working on.
The province will be opening more super sites across the province in each health region, including a second site in Winnipeg opening. The "full suite" of super sites is expected to be completed by mid-May, just before Manitoba is expected to complete the first round of COVID-19 vaccinations. Botha says more pop-up sites and other vaccination methods will be added, but super sites will account for the majority of total vaccinations. As of Tuesday, 42,000 of the vaccinations were healthcare workers.
Manitoba's current daily maximum capacity to put needles into arms is 20,918, almost one thousand appointments higher than the province's April goal. In the next week, 45,960 vaccines are set to be administered across Manitoba, close to an average of 6,566 a day. Botha says the supersites are "humming." Since December there was been a total of 183,563 vaccines given, with 127,101 of those first doses. FITs are being deployed to over 100 congregant living facilities this week.
There is currently a delay in 20 thousand Moderna vaccines, set to arrive between April 14 and 16. The province announced Monday they were stopping AstraZeneca/Covishield vaccines for people not between the ages of 55 and 64.