Winnipeggers brave the cold to get their 3rd dose of COVID-19 vaccine before Christmas

The freezing temperatures didn’t stop dozens of people hungry for a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine from waiting in the cold outside a Winnipeg pharmacy on Thursday morning.

Brook Mckenzie was one of many bundled up outside the Shoppers Drug Mart on Osborne Street, waiting for the store’s walk-in vaccination clinic to open at 10 a.m.

“You see, I’m dressed for the weather,” he said, wearing a green parka and a face mask as he recoiled in a folding chair, with a towel spread over his legs.

Mckenzie said he hopes to receive his third dose before Christmas.

But when he tried to make an appointment at another pharmacy, he was only able to get an appointment in January. So he decided to try his luck while waiting for an injection at a walk-in clinic.

Several people online said they showed up an hour and a half before the pharmacy even opened, braving a wind chill in the -20s.

“I don’t want to wait until January or February to get my recall,” said Ava Halpin, wearing a winter coat and a plaid blanket wrapped around her shoulders.

Brook Mckenzie and Ava Halpin were among dozens who braved the cold Thursday morning in hopes of getting a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. (Tyson Koschik / CBC)

“I’m very excited to have him today, so I can really go out and do things.”

Ian Bailey said he had already made an online appointment for later in January, but believed he would try his luck at a walk-in clinic as well.

But he was frustrated to see the queue – and how long it took for the drugstore to open for the day once that queue started to form.

“They want people to do it, to get your vaccine doses, so you shouldn’t have to wait,” Bailey said.

“I’m surprised they didn’t open the doors a little earlier, given the temperature of -26 with the wind chill and there are a lot of old people waiting right here.”

No shortage of doses: Dr Reimer

Dr Joss Reimer, medical lead for the Manitoba Vaccine Implementation Task Force, said the province is working with more than 100 pharmacies and doctor’s offices to help roll out third doses.

That means there will be some variability in the hours at each site and whether they have doses at any given time, she said.

“Most venues across the province have plenty of appointments available, and in Winnipeg we’re also working to expand availability,” Reimer said at a press conference later Thursday.

“We have the luxury of having many more clinics and pharmacies in Winnipeg than the rest of the province, so we’re looking to make sure it’s available in every neighborhood for every individual in a convenient way. “

Reimer said she was not sure exactly when appointments can be booked right now, but said there is no waiting list due to a supply issue.

“We have no shortage of doses available in the province. It’s really about us trying to figure out what’s most convenient for Manitobans and moving the doses to those places, ”she said.

Dozens of people lined up outside the Shoppers Drug Mart on Osborne Street in Winnipeg before a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic opened at 10 a.m. (Tyson Koschik / CBC)

Available appointments also change daily due to cancellations and staff changes, so those wishing to book should continue to check. the province’s online vaccine researcher, said Reimer.

Meanwhile, Manitoba’s provincial director of public health Dr Brent Roussin said the province is looking to speed up vaccinations before the holidays and is asking pharmacies and doctors’ offices to extend their vaccination hours.

“They’ve stood up for us and Manitobans, so we’re going to ask them again to step up their hours, increase their appointments, [and] trying to get as many Manitobans vaccinated [as we can] within a few weeks, ”Roussin told host Marcy Markusa in an interview with CBC Radio Information Thursday morning.

Radio news – MB12:58Dr Brent Roussin opens up about Omicron and the growing number of cases ahead of the holidays

Manitoba could see up to 1,000 new cases per day in the new year. Manitoba’s Chief Public Health Officer tells Marcy what Manitobans should do to protect themselves over the holiday season, as well as what the province plans to do to get through this latest variant of COVID-19. 12:58

The effort comes as the province braces for the threat posed by the Omicron variant. Manitoba has so far reported six cases related to the strain.

But Roussin said if Manitoba’s epidemiology for this variant mirrors that of other regions, the province could start seeing large numbers of cases within weeks – and vaccines are an effective way to protect against severe consequences. , especially with a third dose.

The province on Wednesday warned that its latest modeling suggests Manitoba could see 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day early in the new year if the new variant, which early data suggests is highly transmissible, s ‘installed.

The province also reported 218 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday – its largest daily increase in more than six months.

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