Date for Manitoba teens to be fully vaccinated by school start is coming, province says

With nearly 78 per cent of eligible Manitobans having at least one COVID-19 shot, the vaccine task force is shifting its strategy away from supersites and towards small pop-ups and community based clinics. Brittany Greenslade reports.

Parents hoping to get their teens fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before the start of the new school year have less than a week to have their child’s first dose administered.

Officials from Manitoba’s vaccine implementation task force say young people aged 12-17 will need to get their first jab by July 27 in order to allow for 28 days between doses and two weeks after the second dose before heading back to class.

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“While we’re in the midst of summer now, it’s never too early to plan for back to school,” said task force lead Dr. Joss Reimer.

Currently only the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for young people aged 12-17, and Reimer said the province has more than 29,000 Pfizer appointments available from now to the end of July.

Provincial officials haven’t said whether or not being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be a requirement for eligible students returning to the classroom in the fall.

The province’s reopening plans are closely tied to vaccination rates, and officials have said the third and final round of public health order loosening is scheduled for the Labour Day weekend, provided 80 per cent of the eligible population has received one shot, and 75 per cent has received two shots.

On Wednesday officials said the province is on pace to reach that target, provided more people get their shots.

Task force co-lead, Johanu Botha, said roughly 25,000 Manitobans will need to get their first dose of vaccine to hit the Labour Day target. He said 13,000 of those people have already booked appointments.

Roughly 140,000 more people need to get a second dose to hit that target, and Botha said 60,000 of those are already booked.

“We believe this target is absolutely achievable,” he said, adding the province now has enough doses for everyone to get both shots, should they want them.

But officials have acknowledged vaccination numbers have been dropping in recent days and Botha said officials are now pushing to reach those who haven’t got their first shot yet.

Those efforts have included mobile vaccination clinics that have been giving shots in lower-income neighbourhoods in Winnipeg over the last month.

Botha said nearly 2,000 shots — almost  all first doses — have come out of the mobile clinics so far, and the effort will move on to vaccine-hesitant communities in southern Manitoba this week.

He also pointed to the success of a plan to start offering shots at pop-up clinics at provincial parks and campgrounds, which kicked off last weekend.

The province says clinics set up at four provincial parks over the weekend saw 91 doses given, 30 per cent of which were first doses.

Botha said more pop-up clinics with hundreds of shots available will be set up campgrounds and provincial parks in the Prairie Mountain Health region over the coming week.

A full list of where pop-ups sites are planned is available on the province’s website.

Meanwhile he said thousands of appointments are open for those looking for a shot. First- and second-dose vaccine appointments can be made by calling 1-844-626-8222 (1-844-MAN-VACC) or visiting the province’s website.

As of Wednesday 77.9 per cent of eligible Manitobans 12 and up have received one shot of vaccine and 63.1 per cent have received two doses, according to a provincial site tracking shots.

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Manitoba reported 44 new COVID-19 cases and one death linked to the virus Wednesday.

The five-day test positivity rate is 3.5 per cent provincially and 2.9 per cent in Winnipeg.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, visit our coronavirus page.

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