The province is announcing who is next in line for COVID-19 vaccines.
Starting Friday, the province is moving to a geographic approach to vaccinations. This will make people who live, or work in specific industries, in the "hot zones" of increased COVID-19 cases eligible for a vaccination. All people aged 18 and older fitting the criteria are eligible.
Areas being prioritized include Downtown East, Inkster East or Point Douglas South neighbourhoods in Winnipeg.
Employment-based people eligible are those working as:
- a child care provider,
- in a food processing facility,
- in a grocery or convenience store,
- at a gas station or
- anywhere that serves food (e.g. restaurants or food banks)
This includes close to 35,000 people.
Appointments can be made online or by calling 1-844-626-8222 (1-844-MAN-VACC). Supersites and two urban Indigenous vaccine clinics will be available for recipients.
Dr. Joss Reimer says more regions will be announced next week, noting these three are only the first.
"We were looking not just at where right now we are seeing the virus at present, but also the neighbourhoods that were shown to the highest risk overall," Reimer says.
They looked at COVID-19 cases in the first and second wave.
"We re trying to identify the communities that see a lot of ongoing transmission and really high risks of having outbreaks in the future."
Factors such as racialized populations, homelessness, and low-income areas are all factors in Friday's choice.
Healthcare workers, police officers, and other previously-announced essential jobs will continue to be eligible for the vaccine regardless of geography.
Age-based eligibility of those 50 and older or 30 and older if First Nations remains in effect. Those aged 40 and older are eligible for the AstroZenica vaccine but pharmacies and medical clinics across the province are experiencing stock shortages.
"We are so happy that Manitobans are eager to get the vaccine," Dr. Joss Reimer said in a Wednesday press conference. "We would, right now, if we could offer a vaccine to every single person in Manitoba."
As of Wednesday, 293,995 first doses of the vaccine have been administered, and 70,394 second doses.
"For those people, who are still waiting, we ask that you keep following the fundamentals and sign up on ProtectMB so that you know as soon as you are eligible, you get that notification, and in the meantime, become educated on the vaccine.
She is encouraging people to talk to their friends and family about the risks and benefits.
If 70 per cent of the population chooses to get a COVID-19 vaccine, everyone wanting a vaccine will receive their first dose by June 9 at the latest, as per the province's estimates. The vaccination team previously announced they will be moving to use more supercentres over pop-up clinics to distribute the vaccines.