Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister spent his first afternoon of 2021 touring the COVID-19 immunization super site that’s opening in downtown Winnipeg Friday.
Earlier this week, eligible health-care workers were receiving their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at the University of Manitoba’s Bannatyne campus. But on Jan. 4, Manitoba’s first immunization super site will open at the RBC Convention Centre.
A couple of Winnipeg police officers kept watch while Premier Pallister, who did not speak to news media Friday, toured the facility.
The entire setup is on the ground floor of the north building of the convention centre. Free indoor parking is provided in the main convention centre parkade.
People showing up for their immunization will enter the main entrance on York Avenue and line up. Metal fencing is in place to guide the lineup to maximize the amount of people inside, and there are floor stickers indicating two-metres distance.
Once through the lineup, people will walk up to tables to check in. That’s where they will have to answer screening questions and provide the necessary identification.
From there, people will enter a waiting room that contains about 100 chairs that are all two metres apart from each other. When a person’s name is called, they will enter a large ballroom with at least 30 physically distanced tables that are set up similarly to a mobile blood donor clinic. This is where the vaccine is administered.
Adjacent to the large ballroom is an area for first aid. That is in case of general accidents, for example and slip and fall, or if people have a reaction after receiving their immunization.
Also next to the ballroom are storage areas that hold personal protective equipment, syringes and sanitizer, as well as three fridges. One of the fridges is set at -75 C, the other two are set at -26 C. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine must be stored in ultra-low-temperature freezers at -70 C, while the Moderna vaccine must be stored in a freezer at – 20 C.
Once a person receives their COVID-19 vaccine dose and is allowed to leave, they will exit via the southwest corner of the building.
Roughly 3,400 first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been administered since they arrived in December, according to the vaccine bulletin issued by the Manitoba government Thursday.
As of Thursday, about 2,900 appointments to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the RBC Convention Centre from Jan. 4-10 were already made. There remain about 3,200 open appointment slots, the bulletin said.
Health-care workers dealing directly with patients in critical care units and COVID-19 immunization clinics or testing sites are eligible for the vaccine. Health workers who work with patients at long-term or acute care facilities, and who were born by Dec. 31, 1972, are also eligible.
Assuming the necessary supply is available, the Manitoba government expects to have enough vaccine to administer roughly 10,000 doses per week during the month of January, according to a vaccine bulletin issued Dec. 23.
Other super sites in Brandon, Man., and Thompson, Man., are slated to open in the coming weeks, the bulletin said. The Keystone Centre in Brandon should open on Jan. 18, while a site next to the Thompson airport will open on Feb. 1 to serve Manitobans in the northern region.
WATCH | Touring Winnipeg’s COVID-19 immunization super site
10 COVID-19 mass vaccination centres open in U.K. – CBC News
Canadian snowbirds getting the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida face backlash from some residents – CBC.ca
The story has made national headlines in the United States: Foreigners aged 65 and older in Florida, including Canadian snowbirds, are being offered the COVID-19 vaccine.
Some snowbirds who made the journey to Florida this winter — despite Canada’s advisory not to travel abroad during the pandemic — are counting their lucky stars, as they could wait months to get the shot in Canada. But they also face a backlash from some locals who argue non-Floridians shouldn’t get early access to vaccines that are currently in short supply.
“We’re first. Get to the end of the line if they want to come,” Florida resident Judy Allen told a local NBC TV station on Friday at a vaccine clinic in Sanford, Fla., north of Orlando.
A week earlier, Canadian snowbirds Andrew Paton, 75, and his wife, Jill, 74, each got their first vaccine dose at a clinic in a gated community in Palm City, Fla., where they own a home. They’re set to get their followup shot on Feb. 4.
“I’m just glad I got it,” said Andrew Paton, who is from Toronto. “Our American friends are thrilled. We’re part of this community. Let’s get everybody vaccinated if we can.”
But not everyone is on side. A few days after getting the shot, Paton said someone sent a letter to the board of his gated community, complaining that Canadian residents were offered the vaccine.
“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “We’re not taking it from anybody. Everybody in this community who wanted one could get one.”
Unlike Canada, Florida is offering COVID-19 vaccinations to everyone aged 65 and older during the first phase of its vaccine rollout. While the state discourages visitors from coming specifically to get the shot, seasonal residents are welcome to sign up.
That policy has especially angered some Floridians who have yet to secure a vaccination appointment due to a slower-than-planned rollout.
“They’re taking it from people that are ahead of them … It’s not their stockpile,” said Clare Archer, 67, of Englewood Isles, Fla., south of Tampa.
Archer is a dual Canadian-American citizen who grew up in northern Ontario and has lived in Florida for the past 25 years. She said due to the short supply of vaccines in her region, both she and her husband have yet to snag an appointment.
And even though she has Canadian roots, Archer said she objects to snowbirds both travelling to Florida during a pandemic and getting the vaccine before some Floridians.
“They absolutely should not be here,” she said. “It’s beyond infuriating.”
WATCH | Why Canada’s vaccine rollout is so slow:
Several Florida politicians are also angry. Last week, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announced he’s trying to revise the rules so that non-permanent residents in Miami are last in line to receive the vaccine.
And on Jan. 10, Rick Scott, one of the state’s U.S. senators, declared on Twitter: “Vaccines must go first to Floridians.”
This is deeply concerning. Vaccines must go first to Floridians, starting with our health care and front line workers and most vulnerable populations. This week, I asked for answers from <a href=”https://twitter.com/HealthyFla?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@HealthyFla</a> and more info on Florida’s vaccine distribution: <a href=”https://t.co/ASBzKoMnh7″>https://t.co/ASBzKoMnh7</a> <a href=”https://t.co/FcWFfmk5jP”>https://t.co/FcWFfmk5jP</a>
It’s up to each U.S. state to decide who gets priority during the vaccine rollout. In a news conference earlier this month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis explained why he’s not turning away seasonal residents who meet the current age requirement.
“We’re a transient state,” he said. “People who are here, four or five months a year, they have relationships with doctors, they get medical care in Florida.”
Canadian snowbirds on Good Morning America
Visitors in Florida getting the vaccine has become such a hot topic, the popular TV show Good Morning America covered the issue in a news segment on Friday.
“Residents across America — even Canada and Argentina — flocking to Florida … leading to what some are calling vaccine tourism,” the segment said.
The story featured Canadian snowbirds Shelton and Karen Papple of Brantford, Ont. The couple travelled to their home in Fort Myers before Florida announced its vaccine plans, and are both scheduled to get their first dose on Monday.
Papple, 66, told CBC News he has no qualms about getting vaccinated in Florida.
“We live here, we pay taxes,” he said. “We’re all in this together. It’s a world problem and everybody should be banding together.”
He said he also believes that reports of Canadians flocking to the state to get the vaccine are overblown, because there are plenty of hurdles. On top of securing a vaccine appointment, you must test negative for COVID-19 before travelling to Florida (effective Jan. 26); stay in Florida for up to a month to get the second dose; receive another negative COVID-19 test before returning to Canada; and quarantine for 14 days upon your return.
But some Canadians are still willing to make the trip.
Travel insurance broker Martin Firestone of Toronto’s Travel Secure said about 100 of his snowbird clients who originally decided not to head to Florida this winter due to the pandemic are now planning to travel to the state to get vaccinated.
But these aren’t cases of “vaccine tourism,” he said, because his clients plan to stay for the rest of the winter.
“They all own property and are really just exercising their right, I guess, to head down to a state that is offering vaccines,” said Firestone.
Papple suggests that as Florida secures and doles out more doses, the backlash against foreigners like him getting the shot will calm down.
“As things go along, the more and more people get vaccinated, I think that becomes a duller story.”
To help speed up the rollout, the state is now offering vaccine shots at a major pharmacy chain in the state. And more than a dozen federal lawmakers representing Florida, including Sen. Marco Rubio, have asked federal officials to beef up Florida’s vaccine supply to accommodate its large number of seasonal residents.
Ontario must cut COVID-19 cases to 1,000 daily to lift lockdowns, medical officer says – Global News
TORONTO — COVID-19 cases in Ontario must fall below 1,000 per day before lockdown measures can be lifted, the province’s top doctor said Monday as he expressed cautious optimism that infection rates may have plateaued.
Dr. David Williams said while the province’s virus rates remain high – with 2,578 new cases reported Monday – he thinks the impact of a provincewide lockdown that started on Boxing Day is beginning to emerge.
Williams said Ontario’s seven-day case average has dropped to just over 3,000 cases he said, down from the mid-3,000s in recent weeks.
He said he would like to see the province’s new daily case counts move to levels last seen in late October before any pandemic measures are relaxed.
“It is achievable, we can get back there,” Williams said. “I take that as a sign that Ontarians … are making headway.”
Williams said he would also like to see the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital intensive care units drop to 150 – from 395 reported Monday – before ending the lockdown.
“If you get below 150 COVID patients in ICU beds that starts to get you back down to where all the hospitals can start to do their other elective procedures,” he said.
Williams said while people must continue to stay-at-home and follow public health rules, the latest numbers show that Ontario’s per cent positivity has not risen in recent days.
His comments come less than a week after the province was plunged into its second state of emergency during the pandemic and Premier Doug Ford’s government imposed a stay-at-home order.
© 2021 The Canadian Press
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