Outreach making small difference in Manitoba communities with low vaccine uptake

Immunization rates still vary greatly across Manitoba ahead of the province launching its first reopening phase on Saturday.

Vaccine uptake is strongest in areas across northern Manitoba, including Cross Lake/Pimicikamak Cree Nation at just under 87 per cent, along with Assiniboine South in Winnipeg at more than 81 per cent.

Regions in southern Manitoba continue to reflect the lowest immunization rates, with the RM of Stanley at around 17 per cent and the RM of Hanover at around 36 per cent.

Read more: Manitoba to open 2nd dose COVID-19 vaccinations to everyone

But Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead for Manitoba’s Vaccine Implementation Task Force, said Thursday community outreach through clinics and town halls in more hesitant areas is making a difference, albeit small, in reaching new groups of people.

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“We do know that each intervention is helpful,” Reimer said. “All of these things together, we are seeing a slight increase in the number of first doses that are going out, and that’s wonderful.”

“We do anticipate that as these big shipments of Moderna come in that we’ll see more first doses going out because we’re able to provide it in so many more accessible locations compared to the past.”

She said the province continues to work with community organizations on outreach in low vaccine-uptake areas, following their lead on how vaccines are advertised and provided.

First-dose administration was leveling off until a recent uptick, Johanu Botha, operations lead of the province’s vaccine task force, said Thursday. It may be too early to tell whether the increase can be attributed to accessibility or incentive-based delivery models, Botha said, such as having community members at supersites and providing low-German signs and stickers.

He also said other community association and church-based clinics are in the works to serve these communities.

“By all accounts, we’re seeing enough of an uptick … to be confident that we’ll meet all of our reopening targets,” Botha said.

The province’s second reopening phase is calling for 75 per cent of Manitobans to be vaccinated with their first dose and 50 per cent with their second one by early August.

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As of Thursday, almost 72 per cent of Manitobans over 12 had gotten their first dose with almost 31 per cent having received their second one.

The province further expanded its second-dose eligibility on Thursday. All Manitobans over 12 who’ve received their first dose can start booking their second one on Friday at 11:45 a.m., provided the dates between doses are separated by a 28-day period.

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Manitoba Premier discusses grant program intended to reach vaccine hesitant – Jun 3, 2021

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