Manitoba COVID-19 vaccine update comes ahead of weekend reopening

Manitoba’s vaccine task force will give an update on the COVID-19 immunization campaign one day after the province announced it would begin loosening restrictions this weekend now that it has reached the first vaccination target in its summer reopening plan.

Second dose eligibility is expected to be expanded Thursday to include people who received their first dose on or before June 6. It opened Wednesday to those who received their first shot on or before May 31.

Dr. Joss Reimer and Johanu Botha, the medical and operations leads on the task force, will hold a news conference at 12:30 p.m. CT.

CBC News will live stream the briefing on our website, as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Gem.

On Wednesday, Premier Brian Pallister and Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin announced a number of relaxed pandemic rules that increase outdoor gathering sizes, allow restaurants to seat customers inside and salons and gyms to reopen for the first time in more than a month. 

Fully vaccinated people — meaning those who have waited 14 days past receiving their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine — get extra freedoms, including being able to dine in restaurants with members of other households and attend outdoor sporting and performing arts events. 

The changes to the pandemic health orders come after the province reached its target of vaccinating at least 70 per cent of eligible residents with one dose of a vaccine, and 25 per cent with two doses, by Canada Day.

The next target date is the Terry Fox Day long weekend in August, when the province aims to have at least 75 per cent immunized with a first dose and 50 per cent with a second dose. 

A number of challenges could stand in the way of achieving that goal. The federal government has said the number of Pfizer-BioNTech doses the province expects to get in the first week of July will be less than half of what it expected.

The number of first doses administered daily in the province has fallen by more than half over the last two weeks — from more than 7,000 doses on June 9 to less than 2,200 on Tuesday. 

Manitoba reached 70 per cent of eligible residents with at least one dose of a vaccine on June 16. As of Wednesday, 71.6 per cent had received a first dose and 28.8 per cent had two doses.

The seven-day average daily percentage increase for first-dose vaccinations is around 0.2 percentage points, and falling.

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