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Manitoba doctors want to administer the COVID-19 vaccines, and they’re calling on the province to be more transparent about immunization plans and find ways to help inform hesitant patients about vaccines.

Nearly half — 49 per cent — of more than 500 doctors surveyed in the province say they’re willing to help vaccinate Manitobans outside of their regular practice, and 58 per cent would like to offer the vaccine in their offices when there’s enough supply, according to the survey being released Monday by Doctors Manitoba. Ninety per cent of doctors who responded to the survey said they would feel comfortable getting vaccinated themselves, and 92 per cent would recommend it to their patients.

Doctors have been involved in administering vaccines at personal care homes, but there’s no process for them to sign on to work at the province’s immunization clinics at this point in the province’s vaccine rollout. Doctors Manitoba wants that to change, saying doctors are open to helping out.

The survey results shaped five recommendations the organization, which represents more than 3,000 doctors across the province, is putting forward to the provincial government. They want those planning Manitoba’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout to work with doctors and accept their expertise in adminstering and determining eligibility for the vaccines, as well as creating a plan for delivering the shots within doctors’ offices, and making sure patients have the information they need about vaccine safety and effectiveness.

The survey comes less than three months after more than 200 doctors signed open letters that were critical of the provincial government’s pandemic response and called for tighter public-health restrictions. Since then, Doctors Manitoba has had "constructive" conversations with newly appointed Health Minister Heather Stefanson and hope to work more closely together, said Doctors Manitoba President Dr. Cory Baillie.

"Doctors want to have a meaningful role in the vaccine rollout and want (it to be known) that they’re eager to work in collaboration with government to make that happen," he said.

Baillie said the survey shows doctors support the vaccines but want more public health information and fact sheets that they can give to patients who have questions about it. They also want the province to lay out its detailed plan for vaccine eligibility, which so far extends only to health-care workers, personal care home residents and residents of Indigenous communities, with an indication that vulnerable seniors and other front-line workers will follow. Manitoba should consider the UK’s model of releasing a detailed eligibility list, he said.

"There is a lot of anxiety amongst Manitobans about, ‘where am I in the queue, when is my turn going to be?’ I think if there was greater transparency (indicating) not necessarily the date but in what order different groups of the population would be eligible to get their vaccine, I think that would ease some of those concerns," he said.

Doctors Manitoba polled its members about the vaccine rollout over four weeks from December to January, hearing back from 507 doctors, most of whom are family physicians in the Winnipeg area.

katie.may@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @thatkatiemay

Katie May

Katie May
Reporter

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

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