Northern Manitoba residents who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine can now start making appointments to receive their first dose at the Thompson Regional Community Centre (TRCC) vaccination site, which opens Feb. 1.
Eligible recipients include anyone who works in a clinical care unit, a long-term care home or a hospital emergency room or urgent care department, or who provides direct care to individuals in group settings such as family violence shelters or homeless shelters. People who work in COVID-19 testing sites or immunization clinics are also eligible to receive the vaccine, as are those who work in a laboratory handling COVID-19 specimens. Anyone born before Dec. 31, 1975 who works in an acute health care facility, emergency response services, specialty patient transportation by land or air or meets eligibility requirements along with some home care workers born before the same date.
Originally, the Thompson vaccination sites at the TRCC and the airport were intending to be administering Pfizer vaccines but, due to delays in shipments from the manufacturer, the Thompson site will instead be providing the Moderna vaccine, Manitoba Health and Senior Care medical officer of health Dr. Joss Reimer, a member of the province’s COVID-19 vaccine implementation task force, said Jan. 20.
“For Thompson we have decided temporarily to use Moderna instead of Pfizer to ensure that we do get doses to that area particularly in response to the higher numbers we’re seeing in the Northern Regional Health Authority,” she said. “Rather than delaying the opening of that site with this disruption of Pfizer, we’re now temporarily going to be using Moderna there so that the disruption does not have an impact on the opening of that site. In the long term, assuming that the numbers return to where Pfizer is currently stating they will be returning to, the Thompson site would be using Pfizer simply based on the transportation and storage requirements that make it a better hub for the more complex requirements of Pfizer.”
On Jan. 25, Reimer said at least 500 doses of Moderna vaccine were being sent to the north. In addition to the Thompson site, vaccinations will also take place in The Pas and Flin Flon starting next week.
“After discussions with the Northern Regional Health Authority ... because we’re using Moderna and have a little bit more flexibility, [it was decided] that it would be more beneficial to split up the location of the doses rather than have them all in Thompson,” Reimer said on Monday.
Reimer didn’t have the exact number of vaccinations that could be delivered in a day in Thompson but said all staff were going to be trained to provide them and that lack of staff wouldn’t lead to vaccines not being administered.
“We will have whatever staff is required to provide the doses to anyone who is booked and is eligible based on the supply that we have,” Reimer said. “The staff at the clinic will not be a limitation to providing those doses. We will ensure that the clinic uses up every single dose available when they have them. Our human resource team has been working with Thompson, with The Pas, with Flin Flon to ensure that staff are fully trained like they are at our supersites. They are actively working right now on making sure that whoever’s providing the vaccines in those locations has gone through all the relevant training to be able to do that both for this clinic and then ongoing as supplies increase.”
Almost 30,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Manitoba so far, including 26,349 first doses and 3,402 second doses. About 1,900 first doses and 20 second doses have been administered to northern residents.