BRANDON — Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister and Health Minister Heather Stefanson toured the province’s soon-to-open second major COVID-19 vaccination site Wednesday.
The Keystone Centre inoculation site is to open its doors Monday, and will operate seven days a week, 12 hours a day. Three trays of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — at 1,170 doses per tray — with three trays planned for the following week, will be at the site.
Vaccine deliveries to Brandon are based on a schedule from the federal government.
Doses are allocated based on demand, with population taken into account. The first shipment has already arrived in the city.
The province’s first vaccination "super site" opened last month in Winnipeg, at the downtown RBC Convention Centre.
The third, set to open in early February, will be in Thompson.
Pallister appeared enthusiastic as he exited the centre after his tour.
"This is an exciting advance in our exciting plans to get vaccines into the arms of Manitobans as fast as we can. But, we want to get it right first. This super site in Brandon is going to be a key part of getting it right," he said.
The premier said he had the opportunity to see the 21 vaccination stations which have been set up, check-in areas, seating arrangements, flow management and safety processes.
"The preparatory work that’s gone on, not just here in Westman, and not just here at this centre, but right across the province… The team, getting up close to 1,000 people, that’s been working so, so diligently to get us ready for these vaccines deserves to be commended and thanked. And I thank them today," he said.
Earlier in the day, the province held a technical briefing about the vaccination program.
Via its various distribution arms, and based on current supply projections, the province hopes to average 1,563 injections per day in January, with a peak of 2,503 doses. February is hoped to be closer to 2,500 per day.
Based on current staffing and operational capacity, the province said it could administer an additional 420,363 vaccinations by the end of April, if doses are available.
However, when factoring in planned expansions of clinic and staffing capacity, the province said it could administer 1,808,204 vaccinations by the end of April if doses are available.
As far as staffing goes, the province has in hand many applications yet to be screened, and soon a service provider will take over the task of screening and background checks.
While thanking all those who have stepped forward to work at the vaccination sites, Pallister said more people are needed because, "We want to be ready in case we do have the federal government give us more vaccines."
By the end of the month, only one per cent of Manitobans would be vaccinated, taking into account available vaccine, Pallister admitted.
The Tory premier said residents at Brandon-area personal care homes would begin receiving vaccinations Friday.
"I know the residents here (in Brandon) and all over Westman are really excited about that. Those projects will continue with enthusiasm. We hope to have our (personal care home) residents all safely vaccinated for the (required) second time in not much more than a month," he said.
After Pallister’s appearance at the Keystone Centre, NDP Leader Wab Kinew accused the government of holding back on details.
"I think people in Westman and across the province deserve to hear more details on the overall vaccine roll-out. I’m not saying the province needs to announce the dates today about how these things are going to happen, but I think they should announce the order of some key steps," Kinew told the Brandon Sun.
Kinew said milestones are significant, including the order in which varying populations will be vaccinated.
"I think the government is holding back some of the details because they don’t want to be judged if, let’s say, the shot doesn’t get into your local pharmacy by late spring or summer. They’re trying to avoid being held to account."
— Brandon Sun