Manitoba resident concerned about rural COVID-19 vaccine supply

WINNIPEG — Unused vaccine appointments and high rural demand has one Manitoban asking the province to allow extra doses from pop-up clinics to be given to people not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine due to their age.

Brandy Beischer lives in Russell, Manitoba, the site of an upcoming vaccination pop-up clinic, but one she is ineligible for because she is 44, 10 years younger than the current age limit.

“I would like the local pop-up clinics to have the ability to adjust the age of availability,” said Beischer. “Let it go to the 40 (year old) age group, because if we are eligible for AstraZeneca why can’t we be eligible for Moderna if no one over 54 is booking?”

The issue of rural vaccine supply has complicated matters for Beischer.

When the province lowered the eligibility age for the Astrazeneca vaccine to people 40 and older on Monday, Beischer jumped at the opportunity to get her shot.

After a few phone calls, she quickly found out getting that shot wasn’t going to be easy. With the Russell Health Centre dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak, Beischer stretched out her search.

“I phoned Birtle Pharmacy, Rossburn Pharmacy, Roblin Pharmacy. They are all out,” said Beischer.

Allison Desjardins is a pharmacist and the owner of the Birtle Pharmacy. She was contacted by Beischer to book a vaccine appointment, but with limited supplies, it wasn’t possible.

Desjardins said her pharmacy received 100 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and was proactive in giving the available shots to patients. The final three doses are booked for Tuesday.

She said most of the local pharmacies received similar amounts, and they too are out of supply. A new shipment timeline is unknown.

Beischer is concerned the upcoming vaccination clinic in her hometown isn’t filling its appointments. She’s concerned the unused Moderna vaccines will be sitting in freezers until the next clinic is scheduled.

“The local pop-up clinic does not have the authority to lower the age, even though no one is booking,” said Beischer.

“So Wednesday, if nobody books, (the clinic) will sit vacant and the local people who are concerned because of our outbreak in the Russell hospital, will have to sit on standby until they lower the age for Moderna, or AstraZeneca becomes available somewhere.”

When asked about unused rural pop-up vaccines being to be given to younger people who aren’t eligible a provincial spokesperson tells CTV News, “At this time, there is no plan to change eligibility to non-age-eligible individuals.”

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