Vaccination plans for next week in Flin Flon have changed. The Manitoba government and health officials have postponed three of next week’s four originally scheduled pop-up clinics due to shipping issues with Moderna vaccines.
Instead of running for four days next week, pop-up clinics will run in Flin Flon for only one – on April 16, instead of the initially scheduled April 13-16. The remaining pop-up clinic will run at the Flin Flon Community Hall from 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m., same as the originally scheduled hours.
The change is part of a series of clinic reschedulings announced recently by the provincial government, owing to what the province has described as “delays in two deliveries of Moderna vaccine”. According to a provincial announcement, two shipments of Moderna vaccines – one of 28,300 doses expected to arrive March 22 and another 28,400 doses expected to arrive earlier this week – were delayed, with the first shipment arriving April 3 and the second shipment yet to arrive as of April 5.
In total, 23 pop-up clinics in 17 different communities have been postponed, most of which are in rural or northern communities.
People who have booked vaccination appointments in Flin Flon April 13-15 will be contacted about their appointments, according to the province, with the option to book another appointment at a future pop-up clinic or at a supersite.
“The province will be reaching out to affected people by phone, email and text to advise them of this change. Individuals may choose to book an appointment at a super site or wait for another pop-up to be rescheduled. These pop-up clinics will be rescheduled based on vaccine deliveries,” reads a provincial vaccine update.
A similar delay may soon be in the cards for Saskatchewan, but has not yet been announced. The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) announced a delay in a shipment of 19,300 doses April 6, stating that the delay “stems from the manufacturer” and that northern and rural clinic appointments may be affected. No announcement about appointments being postponed has been made as of April 8.
For Manitoba, a provincial telephone town hall will be held April 13 at 6:30 p.m. covering rural and northern vaccine issues, including participants like provincial health minister Heather Stefanson, chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin and Drs. Joss Reimer and Johanu Botha from Manitoba’s vaccine task force. Interested callers can register for the call at engagemb.ca.
In the meantime, the sole clinic that will be held in Flin Flon next week – aside from appointments organized through the Flin Flon Pharmasave for AstraZeneca-COVISHIELD doses for eligible people – will be April 13.
According to the Manitoba government’s vaccine dashboard, the province has received about 410,000 doses of three COVID-19 vaccines – the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-COVISHIELD vaccines – and has administered about 234,500 doses as of April 8. The other approximately 175,500 doses, with the exception of about 2,000 doses that had spoiled, are currently in storage. Many of the doses are the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, used mostly at vaccination supersites – Manitoba has received just under 250,000 doses of the vaccine, which is known for requiring precisely monitored cold temperatures for storage and is known to be difficult to ship to remote areas. Manitoba has received about 90,000 doses of Moderna vaccines and 72,600 doses of AstraZeneca-COVISHIELD vaccines – both of those two vaccines have been administered in northern and rural areas, including in Flin Flon.
“The province has carefully reviewed all available vaccine supplies in the province to minimize the effects of this supply disruption. It is not possible to use Pfizer vaccine for pop-up clinics because these doses will be used at other vaccine appointments,” reads a provincial government-issued notice.
Meanwhile, a new shipment of 54,000 AstraZeneca-COVISHIELD doses has been distributed throughout Manitoba to registered medical clinics and pharmacies.
The Manitoba government anticipates it will receive about 37,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses and 11,500 AstraZeneca-COVISHIELD doses this week.
Other northern plans
Smaller northern communities that have already taken part in the Thompson-based "Vaxport" program - involving flying or otherwise transporting people to the Thompson Airport to receive their doses - will have a chance for residents to get a second dose later this month, according to government officials.
People eligible for vaccines in Manitoba currently include, as of April 8, people ages 62 or older and First Nations people ages 42 or older, along with priority groups including health and frontline workers who don’t meet the age limit. Doses of the AstraZeneca-COVISHIELD vaccine are also available for all Manitobans age 65 and over and for people ages 55-64 with certain preexisting health condition.
Doses of the Moderna vaccine are expected to be available on an appointment basis at the Creighton Provincial Building for Saskatchewan residents only, barring changes in schedule or availability. In addition, vaccines have been offered to all Denare Beach residents or Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation (PBCN) members age 50 and over on an appointment basis only. Appointments can be made by calling (306) 362-2175.
“Enough vaccine will be available for as many people who confirm an appointment,” reads a PBCN announcement.
Vaccination efforts in people living in Saskatchewan near Flin Flon began weeks before the first doses ever were made available in Flin Flon and have been more consistently available. As of April 8, all northern Saskatchewan residents age 50 and over can register for their first dose, along with all other Saskatchewan residents over age 55.
NOTE: A previous version of this story mentioned that a pop-up clinic scheduled in The Pas April 14 would also be postponed. That information was incorrect - according to the Northern Health Region, the April 14 clinic will continue as normal.