Province making preparations to provide COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available

The Manitoba government says it has the equipment needed administer a COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available and will soon have storage capacity for up to one million doses.

One ultra-cold freezer has been delivered and installed already with four four more on the way. Combined they can hold about a million doses of vaccine and the government has also purchased 20 portable ultra-cold freezers.

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Also on hand is the required personal protective equipment for staff providing vaccinations, as well as needles and syringes.

Because of the specialized storage requirements for several of the COVID-19 vaccines in development, the province says it will initially be more efficient to store supplies and administer vaccines in a small number of locations but the number of vaccination sites will grow once more vaccine is distributed by the federal government.

We are assembling the necessary people, equipment and other resources to we can rapidly stand up a large-scale, ‘super site’ vaccine campaign, as soon as the vaccine is delivered,” said Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister in a Dec. 3 press release. “Over time, the vaccine will be available to every Manitobans who wants it and this will help to protect all of us against COVID-19. In the meantime, we must continue to follow the public health advice of our public health experts, focus on the fundamentals and stay home,”

The province is also securing more rapid COVID-19 tests and has placed a $40-million order for Songbird Hyris tests, which will help deliver 45,000 tests per month. Another 20 Abbott ID NOW rapid tests are also being sent to communities throughout the province, including one for the Northern Regional Health Authority in either Thompson or The Pas. Abbot ID NOW tests were previously provided to northern communities including Thompson, The Pas, Flin Flon, Churchill, Lynn Lake, Gillam and Swan River in early November, along with supplies to perform up to 4,000 tests.

Rapid tests can help identify outbreaks quickly and the government also has plans to establish a rapid-testing site for teachers in Winnipeg in January. The program may expand outside of Winnipeg later.

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