Despite a significant shortfall of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in early July, every Manitoban who currently has an appointment for the shot will get one, and more doses are on the way.

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Despite a significant shortfall of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in early July, every Manitoban who currently has an appointment for the shot will get one, and more doses are on the way.

Johanu Botha, operations, planning and logistics lead for the COVID-19 vaccine task force, said the team was able to shuffle vaccine supply meant for pop-up clinics and focused immunization teams in order to keep appointments at super sites.

"We don’t have to cancel any existing Pfizer appointments. So, what we can commit to is that every single individual who has a Pfizer appointment at the moment, will have their appointment honoured with a Pfizer dose," Botha said Thursday.

"What we can’t do at the current time is open up new Pfizer appointments."

In the first two weeks of July, Manitoba will receive 80,000 fewer doses of Pfizer, due to supply disruptions. The province had booked appointments for the majority of those doses weeks ago.

Botha said the province will be able to honour scheduled Pfizer doses thanks to Manitobans who have chosen to mix mRNA vaccine brands, and get a shot of Moderna instead of Pfizer.

"A good number of individuals did cancel their appointments and opt for a walk-in option for Moderna, or (to) get Moderna earlier," Botha said.

Botha said all of the Pfizer doses allocated to Manitoba will be delivered during the final two weeks of July to make up the shortfall and will be in addition to shipments previously scheduled for the end of the month.

In the meantime, Manitoba will be awash with doses of the Moderna vaccine. A multi-part delivery of 240,500 doses will be completed this week; another 141,700 touch down next week.

The province will extend hours of operation at its two mass vaccination clinics in Winnipeg until 10 p.m. to keep doses moving; walk-ins are accepted at all Manitoba mass vaccine clinics, except the RBC Convention Centre.

More than 30,000 doses have also been distributed to medical clinics and pharmacies to provide to clients. Meanwhile, community-led clinics are up and running this week and next.

With the influx of vaccine supply, the province will also do away with its eligibility schedule.

As of Friday, at 11:45 a.m., all Manitobans will be eligible to receive their second dose of vaccine. The provincial government says first and second shots should be at least 28 days apart.

Botha also addressed concerns some vaccine records are incomplete and said the task force is working to update them.

He said approximately three per cent of vaccination records are missing the information required for fully vaccinated Manitobans to sign up for their immunization card or to show proof they’ve been immunized.

"It is by no means a systematic widespread problem. It’s one that we will fix however," Botha said. "We’re leveraging resources from across government and within the task force to do this."

Botha said most affected people were immunized out of province, at remote or rural clinics, or who did not have a personal health information number.

He said the issue is not primarily due to data backlogs; in some cases, data may have been entered incorrectly or was incomplete. A timeline to correct the records will be provided soon, he said.

"By all accounts, everyone’s data is in the system. It’s a matter of cleaning it up," Botha said.

According to provincial projections, Manitoba is on track to reach its vaccination targets, so long as supply remains steady.

Botha said the province is logging enough of an uptick in first-dose bookings to be confident all of the government’s reopening targets will be reached.

Projections show 70 per cent of eligible Manitobans will be fully vaccinated before the end of July. It will take about another month to fully vaccinate 80 per cent of the population.

As of Thursday, 30.8 per cent of Manitobans at least 12 years old have been fully vaccinated; 71.9 per cent of them have been partially immunized.

Danielle Da Silva

Danielle Da Silva

Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.

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