A freeze in Pfizer is unlikely to affect current COVID-19 vaccine appointments but may result in eligibility delays. 

A slowdown in Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine shipments is expected for the province. This is the vaccine is the only one available for people aged 12-17 years old and the RBC Convention Centre, Manitoba's largest vaccine super site, main vaccine. Johanu Botha, the Operations lead of the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force in Manitoba, was alerted late afternoon Wednesday of the slowdown.


The slow down

Botha says the first week of July shows a 32,800 dose shipment, far fewer than the typical 83,000 to 89,000 shipments. He does not have any information for the second week of July or later. This could changes soon as later Thursday.

"We cannot concretely say how, or even if, this Pfizer disruption will affect our overall rollout or its targets," Botha says in a Thursday afternoon briefing.

He is asking adults not to cancel their current appointments.

"There is not enough information from the federal government that warrants (Manitobans) to cancel their appointments. There is as good a chance, there is probably a better chance, given that we know that the projections are holding until the end of July, that they still would have that Pfizer appointment available to them."


Appointments unaffected

He says it is unlikely that already scheduled appointments will be affected by a Pfizer slowdown in the second week of July, and if they are, they can substitute Pfizer for Moderna, which Manitoba is experiencing an abundance of for adults.

"Everything that we are seeing from the federal government is that we will get a confirmed shipment available to us for Pfizer at some point across July."

Nothing will change for youth who already have appointments. 

Botha was unable to share why the federal government is cutting expected July doses by almost two-thirds, saying it is possibly due to manufacturing. He says they may get more information this evening.


Second dose eligibility, teenagers may be affected

Second-dose eligibility may be affected, specifically for Manitobans aged 12-17. Eligibility will be expanded tomorrow as adults who are eligible for the Moderna vaccine. 

"Until we do get that information from the federal government, youth will not be able to book their second-dose appointment," Botha says. "There is no reason to create brand-new appointments in the system when we also don't have anything to confirm that we won't have anything more than we initially thought."

Current eligibility is for first doses from May 18 or sooner. Eligibility for youth aged 12-17 opened on May 14.


Moderna's "good timing"

This week 63,180 doses of Pfizer and 105,280 of Moderna are set to be delivered in Manitoba. Botha says the increase in Moderna is good timing.

This week's walk-ins at the Leila supersite in Winnipeg saw large crowds and needed to turn people away after running out of Moderna vaccines. On Thursday, the site ran out of vaccines before it officially opened due to people showing up in the hundreds of hours before the 9 a.m. opening. More walk-in appointments will be available next week at this and other sites.

As of Wednesday, 1,178,960 doses of vaccine have been delivered to Manitoba including 854,100 doses of Pfizer and  233,100 doses of the Moderna. Over 1,077,421 doses of vaccine have been administered.