Dr. Joss Reimer says they are no longer giving out first doses for a COVID-19 vaccine given at medical clinics and pharmacies.

The province is shifting away from giving first doses for the AstraZeneca, holding on to what they have in their freezers and what is coming for second doses.

"It has protected many tens of thousands of Manitobans who might not otherwise have that protection," Riemer says. "You did the right thing."

Second doses will be given 12 weeks after the first dose. Alberta and Ontario is stopping the use of this vaccine.

"I want to reassure Manitobans that anyone who received the AstraZeneca for their first dose will receive their second doses of the AstraZeneca or another mRNA," Reimer says.

If second doses of the AstraZeneca are withheld, Reimer guarantees those who got their first dose of this vaccine will receive a second of another.

Reimer says they are looking to get doses "as quickly into arms as possible," reassuring those who received this vaccine.

The province will officially begin booking second doses for vaccines on May 22.

A small number of Manitobans in the "tens to hundreds" have received their second dose. Reimer says this is because they will be receiving treatments that will greatly affect their immune systems before the second dose rollout. The doctor says this is done on a very limited basis and through a separate booking process with their doctors. 

Those being prioritized as of May 22 will include:

  • receiving hemodialysis OR peritoneal dialysis
  • liver cirrhosis due to any cause OR portal hypertension
  • severe heart failure 
  • cancers including solid tumor and blood (leukemia/lymphoma) who will or are receiving chemotherapy, immunosuppressive therapy orimmune checkpoint inhibitors (e.g., nivolumab, pembrolizumab)
  • receiving one or more of the following medications: B cell therapies (e.g., rituximab, ocrelizumab), cyclophosphamide, alemtuzumab, calcineurin inhibitors (cyclosporine, tacrolimus), chronic dose prednisone >=20mg/day, mycophenolate, and JAK inhibitors (e.g., tofacitinib)
  • have received or are on the list to receive a solid organ transplant
  • have received a stem cell transplant OR CAR-T therapy at least 3 months ago.
  • Down syndrome
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • individuals receiving home care ≥ 4 times/week OR receiving 24/7 Community Living Disability Services supports (or as per family physician determination of equivalent levels of family support).

The second-dose rollout will be quicker than the first. Supersites and pop-ups around the province are or are being established to accommodate the concentrated group.

"It will be a two-dose summer," Johanu Bota, operations lead of the province's vaccination task force says. 

He says by mid-July second doses will be given to everyone wanting one. Reimer is hopeful that everyone who received their first vaccine will get their second. Currently close to half of all eligible Manitobans have received their first dose.