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Get your booster shot

All Manitoba adults now eligible for third COVID vaccine dose

  SYRINGE 3

Manitoba expanded access to a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on November 10. All adults aged 18 or older can now book a booster shot at least six months after their second dose, or sooner in very limited circumstances. The province is recommending the third dose to individuals who are at an increased risk of serious illness from COVID-19, their caregivers, and close contacts. Third doses can be provided at any location that offers the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Right now, a combination of waning immunity for some individuals and too many people who are still unvaccinated is a health risk that we want to avoid as much as possible, said Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of Manitoba’s vaccine task force, during a news conference.

Reimer also reiterated that while vaccines provide strong protection, they aren’t perfect; it is possible to get infected or spread COVID-19 even after a person has received two doses. However, current infection rates in Manitoba range from six to nine times higher in the unvaccinated, and hospitalization rates range from 10 to 20 times higher. “It’s dramatically different, said Reimer.

The expanded eligibility for a third vaccine dose comes as Manitoba’s fourth wave of the pandemic surges, especially in the Southern Health region. That region has 15 per cent of Manitoba’s population but accounts for about half of all active cases in the province. The Southern region’s test positivity rate hit 15.6 per cent last week, compared to three per cent in Winnipeg and 6.1 per cent provincially on November 12.

Southern Health has the lowest vaccination rate of the five Manitoba regions, with just over 68 per cent of eligible residents vaccinated while the provincial rate for the fully vaccinated is 84.2 per cent. The RM of Stanley has the lowest vaccine uptake at only 26 per cent.

The rising number of COVID-19 cases, increased community transmission, and the growing strain on the health-care system prompted the Manitoba government to focus new pandemic restrictions on the Southern Health Region.

Health and Seniors Care Minister Audrey Gordon and Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, announced the additional restrictions on Friday, November 12.

  • Religious gatherings are limited to 25 people unless the facility can physically divide the space into separate areas, in which case several cohorts of up to 25 can attend the same service. However, the total number of attendees at a service may not exceed 25 per cent of facility capacity, to a maximum of 250 people. Cohorts must not mingle; masks must be worn, and physical distancing rules apply.
  • services restricted to fully immunized people and those under 12 who are not eligible for the vaccine may occur without capacity limits;
  • this applies to the Southern Health-Santé Sud health region only; and
  • the municipalities of Cartier, Headingley, Macdonald, Ritchot (Niverville-Ritchot), St. François Xavier and Taché that are geographically located in the Southern Health–Santé Sud health region, are exempt and considered to be part of the Winnipeg Capital Region.

Provincewide, the following restrictions also went into effect on November 13:

  • proof of at least one dose of vaccination, or a recent (within 72 hours) negative test result will be required for 12 to 17 year olds for indoor recreational sports:
  • there will be a grace period until Dec. 5 to allow individuals who are not yet fully immunized to comply, with the order to be in effect at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 6; and
  • negative tests need to come from a participating pharmacy as provincial testing sites should only be accessed by symptomatic individuals, or those who are required to take a PCR test by public health.

The updated orders keep the Pandemic Response System at Restricted (Orange) with schools at Caution (Yellow). All other public health orders remain unchanged.

“Once again, we must ask Manitobans to do more to reduce the current COVID-19 case numbers and community transmission which, in turn, will help reduce the strain on the health-care system,” said Gordon. “We need everyone to work together by following the public health orders, focusing on the fundamentals, and getting vaccinated. We know vaccination works, and I encourage all Manitobans to do your part and get immunized against COVID-19.”