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Despite disruptions in vaccine shipments, all personal care home residents in Manitoba are still expected to be offered immunization by March.

So far, only about 10 per cent of that vulnerable population has been vaccinated. Immunization teams working in care homes have delivered 1,067 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine since Jan. 11, provincial data show.

Dr. Joss Reimer, the medical lead for the vaccination task force, said Wednesday the province has enough supply to vaccinate all care home residents, even though there is an international disruption in the supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. She announced Wednesday that Manitoba would get 29,000 fewer doses than it had expected.

Despite the uncertainty and scarcity of supply, the task force will do "everything possible" to make sure it stays on track with immunizing care home residents, Reimer said. 

 "This population is our top priority," Reimer said. "It is critical that we offer them that second dose and we will ensure that they are given priority to receive that second dose if the supplies become even more limited."

The Moderna vaccine is being used in personal care homes outside of Winnipeg, and the Pfizer vaccine is being used in homes overseen by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. In the Winnipeg health region, 750 care home residents have been vaccinated.

There's no disruption in the Moderna supply, and the province has enough supply of Pfizer to finish vaccinating care home residents with a second dose, Reimer said Wednesday. 

During a technical briefing Wednesday, reporters were told the focused immunization teams of two to eight immunizers are working well inside personal care homes and are expected to finish their work a week ahead of schedule; the province had initially said it wanted to roll out the vaccine to all personal care homes within 28 days.

Not much is known about which facilities have hosted immunization teams, or where they will be stationed next.

There has been a lag in reported data from personal care homes, which officials said Wednesday happens because the immunizers don't have access to laptops or the Internet to report real-time numbers every time they stick a shot in someone's arm. 

The task force is working on a plan for when newly admitted care home residents can be vaccinated; so far, the only directive is those who arrive between doses can receive their first dose when immunization teams return to deliver the second. There's been no update yet on when elderly Manitobans who don't live in personal care homes can be vaccinated, but Reimer said Wednesday they will be a priority.  

Twitter: @thatkatiemay

Katie May

Katie May

Katie May reports on courts, crime and justice for the Free Press.

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