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More Manitobans now eligible for COVID vaccine booster doses, province announces

Anyone over 50 and Indigenous people 30 or older are among those who qualify for a second booster dose under expanded criteria.
Manitoba chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin

The once ubiquitous face of Manitoba chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin made one of its rarer recent appearances May 20 to provide an update on COVID-19, booster vaccine doses and treatment for the virus.

Describing the situation with the virus in Manitoba as “stable,” Roussin said it appears that hospital and intensive care admissions have peaked and are declining, though not quickly. He also said that bout 80 per cent of people hospitalized with COVID are there because of COVID, while the virus is directly responsible for the admission of about 40 per cent of ICU patients who have the virus these days. The others are people who were admitted to hospital or ICU primarily for other reasons but also have COVID.

The province announced May 20 that it is expanding eligibility for second booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine to anyone over 50, Indigenous people over 30 and people aged 18 to 49 who are moderately to severely immunocompromised, as well as residents of any age in personal care homes and similar congregate living sites.

The minimum interval between the first two shots of COVID vaccine (in most cases) and the first booster has been shortened from six to four months, as has the minimum interval between booster doses.

Eligibility for COVID treatment has now expanded to people with symptoms that began in the previous five to seven days who have tested positive for COVID and are at higher risk for severe illness. Higher risk categories include people who are not fully vaccinated, those who have not received a booster dose, those who have not been previously infected with the virus, older adults, those with one or more chronic medical conditions, those who are moderately or severely immunocompromised due to a medical condition or treatment, and also people who are obese or pregnant. 

Some people who are fully vaccinated may also be eligible for treatment if there are other reasons that put them at higher risk.

The antiviral pill paxlovid, which can be prescribed to treat COVID infections, is now available at 175 pharmacies throughout the province where people can fill their prescriptions.

Roussin also said that Manitoba is still seeing influenza A infections at a time of year when flu transmission has usually stopped during a typical flu season.