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COVID-19 vaccine now available to general public in Manitoba, starting with those 95 and older – CTV News Winnipeg

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WINNIPEG —
Manitobans 95 and older are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination.

Dr. Joss Reimer, the medical lead of the Vaccine Implementation Task Force, said Wednesday she is very excited to announce the news.

The Vaccination Implementation Task Force is sticking with its plan to start with the oldest people first. First Nations people 75 and older are also now eligible to book appointments.

The number to call is 1-844-626-8222.

To book an appointment you will need your Manitoba Health card number.

A family member or caregiver will also be able to book on behalf of someone else and one support worker will be allowed to attend the appointment.

The province requests the support person be family or a designated support person.

Reimer said the province is aware that the phone line could be busy and therefore 2,000 lines have been opened up.

“There are more than 270 trained agents taking calls,” Reimer.

She said the wait time is low right now, but if it does increase a call-back option is available for people.

“At the same time, we are asking Manitobans to have patience,” she said.

“If the wait time does go up and you’re struggling to get through, please try again. We’re certainly optimistic that that won’t happen.”

Reimer said when people first call they will hear an automated message, which will determine if they are eligible or not.

Once they are determined to be eligible, they will speak with one of the agents to book an appointment. Both first and second dose appointments will be booked at the same time.

The province has also asked that the consent form be printed and filled out beforehand.

Depending on vaccine supply, the province will incrementally decrease the age of eligibility for the general public to book vaccination appointments.

All personal care home residents are expected to get their second dose by the end of this week.

Vaccinations at congregate living facilities are also underway, according to Reimer.

She said with all these people receiving the vaccine. including the start of the general public, this will help greatly in lowering the spread of COVID-19.

The province is also piloting an online booking system for appointments.

The online process will feature a virtual waiting area if there are a lot of people booking online. People will be able to create their own account and Manitobans will be required to complete an eligibility questionnaire. They will also be able to select their appointment date and time, however, a second appointment will be determined automatically.

When the appointment has been booked each person will receive a confirmation email.

EXPANDING CAPACITY

More information was also provided about the province expanding its capacity.

The supersite in Winnipeg will be able to handle more than 6,000 appointments a day by mid-March.

“That doesn’t mean we will be providing 6,000 doses per day but that does mean we could if we have the supply available,” Reimer said.

The Selkirk site location will be at the former Selkirk District General Hospital at 100 Easton Dr. It is expected to open in early March, and more details are to come on the Morden-Winkler site, which is scheduled to open in the middle of March.

Reimer also addressed some potential changes that are being reviewed right now in regards to the vaccine.

She said there have been calls for the province to provide only one dose of the vaccine instead of two. She said this is being reviewed throughout the country.

“The data is starting to come in and we’ve seen some studies from some other countries that show some reassuring numbers,” Reimer said. “As we’ve said all along, we will shift our approach, if the evidence shows us that that’s the best direction to go.”

She added that Pfizer is looking at how its vaccine is currently being stored and possibly storing it at less cold temperatures.

“(Pfizer has) applied for approval with the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, to be stored in regular freezer temperatures,” Reimer said.

“They have not yet applied in Canada to Health Canada to make that change. And so once more information is available, and approvals are in place, Manitoba can also change our approach.”

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Canada allows Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 12-15

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(Corrects headline and lead to make clear that Canada was not the first nation as stated by Canadian officials, adds context from Pfizer in fourth paragraph)

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) –Canada is authorizing the use of Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in children aged 12 to 15, the first doses to be allowed in the country for people that young, the federal health ministry said on Wednesday.

Supriya Sharma, a senior adviser at the Canadian federal health ministry, said the Pfizer vaccine, produced with German partner BioNTech SE, was safe and effective in the younger age group.

“We are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” she told reporters.

Sharma and a health ministry spokesman said Canada was the first country to grant such an approval, but a Canadian representative for Pfizer later said Algeria permitted use of the vaccine for this age group in April. The Canadian health ministry said it had no information about the discrepancy.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to take a similar step “very soon,” U.S. health officials said.

Separately, authorities reported the third death of a Canadian from a rare blood clot condition after receiving AstraZeneca PLC’s’s COVID-19 vaccine. The man, who was in his sixties, lived in the Atlantic province of New Brunswick.

Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health in New Brunswick, said the province would continue using the AstraZeneca vaccine. Alberta reported a death from clotting on Tuesday and Quebec announced one on April 27.

“There will be rare cases where thrombosis will occur. However, the risks remain minimal compared to the risks, complications and potential consequences of COVID-19,” Russell told reporters.

Canada‘s federal government has bought tens of millions of doses of vaccines but critics complain the pace of inoculation is lagging due to bottlenecks in the 10 provinces, which are responsible for administering the doses.

Alberta will become the first province to offer COVID-19 vaccines to everyone aged 12 and over from May 10, Premier Jason Kenney said on Wednesday, a day after he introduced tighter public health measures to combat a third wave of the pandemic.

Alberta, home to Canada‘s oil patch, has the highest rate per capita of COVID-19 in the country, with nearly 24,000 active cases and 150 people in intensive care.

Around 20% of the 1,249,950 cases of COVID-19 in Canada have been reported in people under the age of 19. Canada has recorded 24,396 deaths.

(Additional reporting by Allison Martell in Toronto and Nia Williams in Calgary;Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Sonya Hepinstall)

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Younger people filling up COVID-19 intensive care

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By Anthony Boadle

BRASILIA (Reuters) –COVID-19 infections continue to spread fast across the Americas as a result of relaxed prevention measures and intensive care units are filling up with younger people, the director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday.

In Brazil, mortality rates have doubled among those younger than 39, quadrupled among those in their 40s and tripled for those in their 50s since December, Carissa Etienne said.

Hospitalization rates among those under 39 years have increased by more than 70% in Chile and in some areas of the United States more people in their 20s are now being hospitalized for COVID-19 than people in their 70s.

“Despite all we learned about this virus in a year, our control efforts are not as strict, and prevention is not as efficient,” Etienne said in a virtual briefing from Washington.

“We are seeing what happens when these measures are relaxed: COVID spreads, cases mount, our health systems become overwhelmed and people die,” she said.

Canada continues to report significant jumps in infections in highly populated provinces such as Ontario as well as in less populated territories of the North and Yukon, home to remote and indigenous communities, according to PAHO.

Puerto Rico and Cuba remain significant drivers of COVID-19 cases in the Caribbean, which is facing a new surge of the virus, PAHO directors said.

Cases are rapidly accelerating in the Guyanas and across Argentina and Colombia, where weekly case counts are five times higher today than they were this time last year and hospitals are reaching capacity in large Colombian cities.

In Central America, Guatemala is seeing significant spikes in cases and Costa Rica is reporting record-high infections.

While vaccines are being rolled out as fast as possible, they are not a short-term solution because they are in short supply, said Etienne, the World Health Organization’s regional director.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Alberta confirms first death linked to AstraZeneca vaccine

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Reuters) -The province of Alberta reported its first death of a patient from a rare blood clot condition after receiving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, its chief medical officer said.

Canada has reported at least five cases of blood clots following immunization with the vaccine, but public health officials maintain the benefits of the AstraZeneca shot outweigh the potential risks.

The Alberta case, of a woman in her 50s, marks the second case of blood clots, and the only death after more than 253,000 doses of AstraZeneca were administered in the province, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said in a statement on Tuesday.

“While any death is tragic, it is important to remember that the risks of dying or suffering other severe outcomes from COVID-19 remain far greater than the risk following AstraZeneca vaccine,” Hinshaw said.

AstraZeneca did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for a comment.

Canada has had 1,243,242 confirmed coronavirus cases and 24,342 deaths, according to a Reuters tally

Last month, the province of Quebec reported Canada’s first death of a patient after receiving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

AstraZeneca, working with the vaccine’s inventor Oxford University, was one of the leaders in the global race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Its cheap and easily transportable shot was hailed as a milestone in the fight against the crisis, but has since faced a series of setbacks.

The rare complication, which some regulators including Health Canada are calling Vaccine-Induced Prothrombotic Immune Thrombocytopenia, involves blood clots accompanied by a low count of platelets, cells in the blood that help it to clot.

Dozens of countries paused the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in March after reports of rare, but serious, blood clots. Several of them have now resumed use either fully or with restricions after health regulators said the benefits of the shot outweigh any risks.

(Reporting by Vishwadha Chander and Sabahatjahan Contractor in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Angus MacSwan)

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