Manitoba targets at-risk groups in pediatric COVID vaccine rollout
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This article was published 20/07/2022 (312 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Younger children in Manitoba have become eligible for Moderna’s recently approved COVID-vaccine, but due to limited supply, priority groups such as Indigenous children and kids with lung disease will be first to get the shot.
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, announced Wednesday immunocompromised children from six months to four years will soon be able to get their first COVID-19 vaccines here; booking for high-risk children will begin Monday at 8 a.m.
Roussin said eligibility will be expanded to all children in this age group once Manitoba receives more supply of vaccine. The initial shipment is about 14,000 doses. He couldn’t say when more doses would arrive.
Pediatricians or public health nurses will administer the vaccines at doctors’ offices or clinics, Roussin said.
He said the vaccine is safe and he has no concerns about doctors’ ability to administer it properly.
As for adults, Roussin says Manitoba has no immediate plan to expand eligibility for second booster shots to everyone over 18.
Ontario, Quebec and Alberta have opened up second boosters to all adults.
In Manitoba, access is limited to Indigenous people aged 30 or older, other people aged 50 and over, as well as people in personal care and assisted living homes and some immunocompromised people.
Roussin said the goal is not to use the vaccine to stop COVID-19 infections, but to prevent severe outcomes, and he said the current booster eligibility is doing that.
“What we find is that those in lower-risk categories who’ve had three doses have good protection against severe outcomes. Those that are higher risk are eligible for the fourth dose, and many people — about half the people — who are eligible for that third dose still haven’t taken us up on that,” Roussin said. “So the real issue is getting people that first booster.”
For many Manitobans, it’s been more than six or seven months since they received their third dose. Roussin emphasized people who aren’t high-risk should still have good protection from the third dose.
He explained the province is not considering opening up fourth doses to front-line health workers or others in high-risk jobs right now. The rise of the more contagious Omicron subvariant BA.5 means the current vaccine may not be as effective at preventing infections in people who aren’t high risk, Roussin said.
“Evidence doesn’t show a tremendous improvement with that second booster in those who are not at increased risk,” Roussin said. “Again, because BA.5 is circulating, we’re not sure on the effectiveness of this vaccine specifically for that.”
Katie May is a general-assignment reporter for the Free Press.