New Manitoba program to have doctors, pharmacists encourage COVID-19 vaccinations

The Manitoba government is investing $14 million in community-focused and one-on-one outreach programs to improve access to the COVID-19 vaccine and to boost vaccine uptake.

“Every vaccination matters. Everyone is important, and there are many more that have to be done,” said Premier Kelvin Goertzen.

“Today’s announcement is recognizing that we are now in a different stage of the vaccination campaign.”

The Manitoba government announced the funding on Tuesday, saying the money will support initiatives that will allow doctors’ offices to create a roster and provide outreach to patients who are not fully vaccinated.

This outreach will include having patients come in to ask any questions or relay concerns they have about the vaccine, in order to support fully informed decisions.

The province said that each office can develop its own strategies to reach out to people based on its knowledge of the patients and what would be most effective.

Funding can be used to cover administrative costs and physician fees.

“Doctors, physicians, pharmacists, these are the people that have earned the trust of Manitobans in many different ways and for many different reasons,” the premier said.

“Manitobans have trusted them to deliver their babies. They have trusted them when they’ve gone through a difficult diagnosis, like cancer. They’ve trusted with their loved ones. They’ve helped them with their prescriptions in many, many different ways.”

The province is also supporting the creation of a training and support program for doctors and pharmacists that deals with best practices when it comes to reaching out to those who have yet to be vaccinated. Doctors Manitoba, the Manitoba College of Family Physicians and the University of Manitoba are developing the training, which will help support health-care providers in areas where help is needed to improve immunization rates.

Manitoba’s investments will also allow doctors and pharmacists to offer more immunization clinics in places with low uptake rates.

Training opportunities for health-care workers and paraprofessionals will be available to teach them about motivational interviewing techniques – an approach that will help them better understand and address questions and concerns from unvaccinated people.

“We’re excited to bring the focus back to communities and neighbourhoods, as these partnerships really do support a regionalized approach to immunization in Manitoba,” said Health Minister Audrey Gordon.

The province added that health authorities will be holding smaller vaccine clinics every week in the near future to reach as many eligible Manitobans as possible.