COVID-19 vaccine second doses opening to all eligible Manitobans on Friday

All Manitobans eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine will be able to book a second dose starting on Friday.

Johanu Botha, operations, logistics and planning lead of Manitoba’s Vaccine Implementation Task Force, said starting at 11:45 a.m. on Friday, second-dose eligibility will be opened up to everyone.

He said all eligible Manitobans booking appointments on Friday must book a date that is 28 days after their first dose.

Botha said now every supersite except the RBC Supersite is offering walk-ins. The number of doses available at each location for walk-in appointments will vary, he said.

"We will continue to do our best to prioritize people who need their first dose when they come for walk-ins, but second-dose people can still choose to try the walk-in option," he said.

As of Thursday, the province reported 71.9 per cent of eligible Manitobans had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 30.8 per cent had received two doses.

"Your first dose is absolutely critical to protecting you, protecting your family, and protecting the people that you come in contact with," said Dr. Joss Reimer, the medical lead of the task force.

"There are many people who face barriers in getting the vaccine, and so all of the outreach and community work is essential in order to meet the needs of these individuals."

Reimer urged those who do not face barriers but are waiting to get their first dose of the vaccine to book an appointment now.

PARENTS, CAREGIVERS NOW ABLE TO TRANSFER PFIZER APPOINTMENT TO CHILDREN

The province is also preparing for a Pfizer supply slowdown from the province, leaving only a limited number of appointments for the Pfizer vaccine available.

READ MORE: COVID-19 vaccine appointment bookings for Manitoba youth paused due to Pfizer slowdown

"Our Pfizer supply in the short term is extremely limited," Botha said. "Right now, that is the only type of vaccine approved for young people aged 12 to 17."

Botha said as an interim solution, parents and caregivers who have an upcoming Pfizer appointment can now transfer that appointment to their child.

Those who transfer a Pfizer appointment can instead book a Moderna vaccine appointment for themselves.

Reimer said for parents and children who are not able to do this, it is okay to have a slightly longer timeframe between doses.

"If your second dose happens later than 28 days, I don't want you to worry about how well it will work," she said, adding studies have shown longer delays between doses can lead to a stronger immune response.

"While we do want people to be immunized as quickly as possible, we don't want you to worry about how well that second dose will work if you do have to wait a bit longer to get it."

Anyone who would like to change their appointment can call 1-844-626-8222.

PROVINCE TO TEST EXTENDED HOURS AT RBC, LEILA SUPERSITES

Botha said the province is expected to receive hundreds of thousands of doses of the Moderna vaccine in the near future.

Because of this, Botha said the province will be testing extended hours at the RBC and Leila supersite locations on June 28. He said appointments are available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

"As we've said, nothing is off the table, so certainly extending hours further with more supply coming in is under consideration, especially if it works well and supply does arrive," he said.