Manitoba is dropping the age of eligibility for a COVID-19 vaccine to 18 and older today (Wednesday, May 12, 2021).

The province lowered the age of eligibility for a COVID-19 vaccine to 24 and older on Tuesday, which was the fifth time it has been lowered in the last week and one day after dropping it to 30.

Public health officials said last week that they are planning to vaccinate 12- to 17-year-olds and they will likely become eligible by May 21.

To make an appointment at a supersite or pop-up clinic, use the province’s online booking portal or call 1-844-626-8222.

The reason for the quick pace of vaccinations in Manitoba is because shipments have increased over the past week as more supplies arrived.

Before there were delays in shipments of the Moderna vaccine which had previously caused a slowdown in the rollout.

More than 10,000 doses were administered in Manitoba on Monday. The province estimates it will administer 82,944 doses of vaccine between May 10 and 16.

As of Tuesday, 45.4 percent of adult Manitobans have received at least one dose of the vaccine. 

Health officials have said they plan to start making second-dose appointments for some people on May 22.

Vaccination Supersites Stocked Up As Eligibility Increases For Indigenous Adults 

Indigenous adults, including First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people, are now eligible to get the coronavirus vaccine.

The added eligibility applies to vaccinations at supersites and pop-up clinics, which are stocked with either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.

Meanwhile, the eligibility for the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine remains at 40 and up for all Manitobans, and 30 to 39 for people with certain health conditions.

Up until now, age eligibility for First Nations has been set at 20 years younger than the general population’s eligibility.

Dr. Marcia Anderson, the public health lead for the First Nations Pandemic Co-ordination Team says they have seen 50 to 60 percent of all COVID-19 admission to the intensive care units.

“We’re also seeing consistently higher numbers of off-reserve First Nations people than on-reserve people in hospitalizations and ICUs and, unfortunately, more fatal outcomes.”

As of Friday, there had been 114 deaths among First Nations people living off-reserve and 55 deaths of people living on reserve.

There are also 231 cases linked to more contagious coronavirus variants in First Nations people living off-reserve, compared to 45 on reserve.

As of April 29, 52,000 doses of vaccine had been administered to First Nations people in Manitoba.

Brandon’s East End Joins Growing List Of Areas Making Vaccine Available

Another neighbourhood in Brandon will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.

Today the province announced that the East End, including anything east of First Street, is now eligible for vaccination.

More neighbourhoods in Winnipeg and a large chunk of eastern Manitoba have also been prioritized for COVID-19 vaccinations, allowing tens of thousands more people aged 18 and up to book appointments for a shot.

Adult residents of Winnipeg’s Fort Garry area south of Bishop Grandin Boulevard are eligible for vaccinations.

More neighbourhoods include Tyndall Park and Meadows West.

In eastern Manitoba, Sagkeeng First Nation, Powerview-Pine Falls, Manigotagan and Bissett are all included.

All adults who live in these areas can book vaccination appointments, as can some adults who work with the public in these jurisdictions.

That list includes teachers, people who work at daycares, food-processing plant workers, some inspectors, and people who work gas stations, grocers, convenience stores and restaurants.

Meanwhile, the province announced 230 more cases of COVID-19 and 2 more deaths. 

 

 

 

COVID Vaccine Available for More Age Groups in Manitoba

 

The Province is expanding its COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to adults aged 18 and older in certain communities, including a spot in Brandon.

 

Downtown Brandon is one of many communities added to the eligibility list. Also added was Point Douglas North and Downtown West in Winnipeg. Before other communities that had vaccines available were Winnipeg’s Seven Oaks West, Downtown East, Point Douglas South and Inkster East communities.

 

The province plans on making more communities available in the coming week.

 

As the province has expanded eligibility to more priority communities, the general age of eligibility to get a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at one of the province’s supersites or temporary clinics has not changed since it was lowered a week ago to anyone 50 and older, and First Nations people 30 and up.

 

To date, 447,031 doses of vaccine have been administered, and the province expects to receive 2,340 doses of Pfizer and 22,100 doses of Moderna vaccine.

 

The province also released some data showing that vaccine uptake among eligible people has lagged in some communities in Winnipeg and southern Manitoba. Of note is some areas where uptake is below 20 percent. 

Good News For Manitoba Truckers Travelling To N.D.

Manitoban truckers will be offered free vaccines starting Wednesday when they travel to North Dakota.

This will be the first such program between a Canadian and American jurisdiction.

The Manitoba Trucking Association and the Province of Manitoba will identify eligible drivers and work with North Dakota to schedule vaccination appointments during truckers’ routine trips to the U.S. over the next six to eight weeks.

It’s expected to help with 2,000 to 4,000 Manitoba drivers.

The state will be providing the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines and, once it is approved again, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

U.S. health officials recently stopped the administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots.

The vaccines will be administered by the North Dakota Department of Health nurses and other staff to administer the first and second doses of the vaccine to provide full immunization of truckers.

The state will then provide proof of immunization to those who are vaccinated and share records of immunization with Manitoba.

There will be no cost to the state or province.

More Manitobans Now Eligible To Get COVID-19 Vaccine

Vaccine eligibility has expanded to make doses available to police, firefighters and people living and working in certain high-risk communities, but it means younger age groups might have to wait longer.

“Our intent is to focus on where we see that high, high risk of transmission happening, particularly with the third wave, which does mean that our age decrease will be slower,” says Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the vaccine task force in Manitoba.

The province is still in the process of determining which specific geographic areas and which frontline workers in those areas will be eligible. Those details will be announced next Wednesday.

Those places will be determined by a team of doctors, nurses and epidemiologists, as well as whether more people should be eligible to receive the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine.

The province also lowered the age of eligibility to 57 and older for all Manitobans and 37 and older for First Nations people.

 

For the second time since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Fairview Personal Care Home in Brandon is under Code Red as an outbreak has been declared.

 

The last time an outbreak was declared at the Home was back in November when 21 residents and 8 staff were positive with COVID-19. This time around it’s a staff member. The age and sex of the staffer are unknown.

 

There are currently no COVID-19 positive residents and none of the residents are exhibiting any respiratory symptoms. Fairview staff continues to monitor all residents in the building closely out of an abundance of caution.

 

Fairview is the third place that has additional restrictions in the Prairie Mountain Health Region, with the Boissevain School going to online learning and an outbreak being declared at the Boissevain Health Centre.

 

Meanwhile, 135 new cases have been identified in the province, with five cases in the Prairie Mountain Health Region.

 

The province announced there were two additional deaths as well, with one person having the new B117 variant.

 

The province says the new variant is becoming the new dominant strain of COVID-19 in the province.

“I just want to be clear that we are in the beginnings of a third wave in Manitoba. So, your actions are critical right now.”

 

Those were the words from Dr. Joss Reimer as the province announced 179 new COVID-19 cases on Friday.

 

That is the highest single-day increase in Manitoba since January 24th. On that day, the province announced 222 cases.

 

Reimer continued to say, “If we can’t control the transmission of COVID-19, Manitobans may see more restrictions in the days ahead.”

 

Three more deaths linked to the illness were announced, including a man in his 20s from the Northern Health Region.

 

There were 37 newly identified cases of more contagious coronavirus variants, most of which are in the Winnipeg health region.

Thirty-three of the new variant cases are the B117 strain first seen in the United Kingdom. Of those, three of them were in the Prairie Mountain Health region.

Reimer says public health staff are watching Manitoba’s situation closely and analyzing the experiences of provinces already in their third waves to figure out how best to respond.

There’ll be just a few changes to the public health order in Manitoba.

Starting Friday at 12:01 a.m., the province will be allowing liquor cart sales on golf courses and the maximum number of people allowed to attend self-help meetings will increase to 25.

Otherwise, the rules that are in place will stay that way until April 30.

Chief Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, said there wasn’t much else officials could do.

“We really weren’t in a position to offer a broader reopening at this point because of our slowly increasing rates as well as the risks posed by the variants of concern,” said Roussin.

He explained that when the last orders were made in March, the province wasn’t expecting golf courses to open as early as they did.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, health officials announced 40 new COVID-19 variant cases.

Manitoba has had 339 variant cases.

 

The Manitoba government will be looking to phase out the education property tax, according to its latest budget.

The 2021-22 budget, which was released on Wednesday, says it will be cutting down the education tax for owners of residential and farm property by 50 percent over the next two years. It will be cut down 25 percent each year.

Owners for other types of property will be seeing a 10 percent cut.

The move comes sooner than expected, as the original promise by the Progressive Conservatives was to gradually eliminate school taxes from property tax bills, and would’ve taken 10 years. The government was supposed to eliminate the tax in 2023 after it balanced the budget in 2022. But balancing the budget was delayed because of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Rebate cheques are expected to be sent out as early as June.

Homeowners are expected to save $210 this year from the rebate and reductions to the existing property tax offsets.

Meanwhile, the province is planning to bring down the 2021-22 budget deficit by around $400 million and to be at $1.6 billion.

Coming Soon! Movies at The Shamrock Drive-In!!

A former draw for the public in Killarney is once again opening back up during July Long Weekend. The Shamrock Drive-In will be reopening during the Canada Day weekend with a brand-new screen.

 

According to their social media platforms, the owners put up three shipping containers built upon each other and painted white on one side to create a screen. (pictured below) Each container is 9,000 pounds each and has survived big storms around the area since they have been put up. The total height of the screen is approximately 29 feet.

(Some of the staff and supporters of the Shamrock Drive-In pause for a photo in front of the new screen. They’re currently going over options to fill the spaces between the containers. The new makeshift screen is replacing the original screen which was up since 1953 but was wrecked after two storms in 2015.)

 

The idea for the reopening of the drive-in was brought up after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when the idea of drive-ins was more popular since it was a good way for people to watch movies in a socially distanced way.

 

The owners say the parking area will be able to support plenty of vehicles and the concession stand in the middle of the yard will operate using whatever health regulations are in place at the time.

 

As the companies that provide the movies take most of the ticket revenue, the owners of the Shamrock Drive-In say the best way visitors can show their support is to purchase their popcorn, drinks, and other food items at the concession stand. Their prices are fair and they’ll provide a good selection of items.

 

Although some of the old Drive-In style speakers remain in the first few rows, visitors to the newly revitalized Shamrock Drive-Inn can enjoy their moving viewing experience with clear FM sound.

 

The first movie to hit the new makeshift screen is yet to be determined. They are happy to receive your suggestions via their Facebook page which you can visit here

 

 

Manitobans Warned to batten down the hatches 

The Westman and Parkland areas will be experiencing some crazy weather over the next few days.

 

Let’s start in Parkland, where the Russell, Roblin, and Dauphin area is under a winter storm warning for today and tomorrow.

 

Environment Canada says there is expected to be a strong low-pressure system tracking across the central Prairies bringing a large swath of snow across central and northern Manitoba. Heavy snow over west-central Manitoba will track eastward this morning into the Norway House and Island lake areas and then slide southwards into the Parklands area of western Manitoba later this afternoon into this evening. Storm totals are forecast to be in the 15 to 25 cm range, although local amounts may be highly variable.

 

Along with the snow, there are expected to be strong winds gusting as high as 70 km/h that will also lead to reduced visibilities in blowing snow for today and tonight.

 

Meanwhile, for the Brandon area, there are expected to be severe winds of up to 90 km/h.

 

The strong winds will also see temperatures fall quickly and scattered rain showers will change over to snow with pockets of localized heavier snow. Visibilities may be suddenly reduced at times in snow and blowing snow. 

 

There might be blowing snow advisories later today. For more details on this weather disturbance click here.

The City of Brandon is introducing a flood protection subsidy program for property owners

The Sewer Back-up Subsidy Program will provide subsidy funding for property owners that are wanting to install either a sump pump and pit or a backwater valve in their home or business.

Funding will be available for up to 75% of the total materials and installation cost up to a maximum of $2,500 for the sump pump and pit and up to a maximum of $1,500 for the backwater valve. Work must be done by a licensed plumber.

The program is open for all property owners within City of Brandon boundaries starting on March 29th.

Other qualifications for the program are:

  • Obtain a quote from a licensed plumber. 
  • If both components are being installed, the quote must list the two items separately to show individual costs. 
  • The plumber must supply a drawing that includes: 
  • Location and type of backwater valve relative to basement plumbing 
  • Location of the sump pit  
  • Discharge location of sump pump on the exterior of the house  
  • Apply for a flood protection permit at the A.R. McDiarmid Building, located at 638 Princess Avenue, or via our online portal at permits.brandon.ca.  

Applications into the program must be made no later than December 31, 2021, with all work being completed, inspections done, and paperwork being submitted to the City of Brandon by January 15, 2022.  

 

Manitoba’s education system will be getting a major overhaul.

A bill which is now in second reading at the Manitoba Legislature would replace the province’s English-language school divisions with 15 regional catchment areas.

Each school will have a community school council made up of parents of students at the school.

So far the new councils’ roles have not been finalized but could include assessing the effectiveness of programming at the school, analyzing student achievement and learning outcomes, and proposing capital construction projects and budgets.

The bill would also create a provincial advisory council, getting representatives from regional catchment areas that will be elected from members of the school councils. 

Principals and vice-principals would also be removed from the teachers’ union.

Education Minister Cliff Cullen has said the proposed changes are aimed at cutting administration costs and redirecting money to the classroom.

The plan includes reducing funding from education property taxes, starting in 2023.

Meanwhile, the Manitoba School Boards Association has campaigned to keep elected school boards. They say they are essential to keeping the school system connected to communities.

COVID Cases in Manitoba Trending upward again

For the first time in three weeks, Manitoba has more than 100 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.

The province announced that one person has died, and Manitoba has 104 new cases of COVID-19.

They also announced a change of restrictions to allow small groups of people from different households to sit together on restaurant patios, and the removal of masks while seated and distanced from other households at churches.

The last time there were more than 100 cases was on February 18th, when 139 cases were announced.

But Manitoba’s chief public health officer says it was expected that cases would go up.

“As we loosen restrictions, we have more interactions and thus increasing case numbers. At the same time, we’re rolling out the vaccine, we’re protecting more and more of those most vulnerable in Manitoba,” Dr. Brent Roussin said.

Meanwhile, there were changes to the current public health orders, allowing groups of up to six people from different households to sit together on outdoor patios at restaurants and licensed establishments.

People in churches will also be allowed to remove their masks if they are sitting with members of their own household, safely distanced from other groups and not singing.

The new orders go into effect one minute after midnight on Saturday.

(photo Courtesy: www.southernhealth.ca)

Lorne Memorial Hospital in Swan Lake

The Lorne Memorial Hospital’s emergency department will be shutting down after March 15th.

The hospital is located in Swan Lake, which is southeast of Brandon and northeast of Crystal City.

Both physicians at the small hospital are leaving after the 15th.

The future plan for the hospital is to have a nurse practitioner-led care model for medical care.

Currently, there is the recruitment of three additional nurse practitioners for the facility.

The Southern Health says nurse practitioners will be able to do many things that doctors can. They will be able to order screening tests and manage the results, perform minor surgical procedures, provide advice, give full health assessments and diagnose and treat health concerns for patients of all ages.

The closest emergency rooms are in Crystal City, Treherne, Notre Dame de Lourdes, Carman, and at the Boundary Trails Health Centre. Each one of those drives is between 20 to 50 minutes away.

 

Two More AGE GROUPS of Health Compromised Individuals In Line For COVID 19 Vaccine

 

The Province will be prioritizing everyone age 50 to 64 and First Nations people age 30 to 64 who are most at risk from COVID-19 for the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine.

That includes people with certain serious heart conditions, end-stage renal disease, or liver failure.

First and second priority recipients for the vaccine were released on Wednesday, the same day around 18,000 AstraZeneca-Oxford doses arrived in the province. The doses will be heading to nearly 200 pharmacies and doctor’s offices starting Thursday.

Other than the main groups, Manitobans 80 and older and First Nations people 60 and older are still eligible to book vaccination appointments although people 65 and older must go to a site that offers the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.

The reason anyone over the age of 65 or older won’t be getting AstraZeneca doses, is because the National Advisory Committee on Immunization has not recommended its use for those 65 and older, citing a lack of clinical data.

Timelines put out by the province suggest Manitobans over the age of 18 will get at least one dose by mid-June at the latest or May 21 at the earliest.

Photo credit: Brandon Police Services

The Independent Investigation Unit says officers didn’t break the law when a man was bitten by a police dog during his arrest in Brandon last year.

Back on October 9th, Brandon police were called to Rosser Avenue where two men were allegedly damaging cars in the parking lot.

Police say one window of a business had been broken and one of the men was spotted inside. They told the man to come out and surrender, but he refused. Officers then used a police dog to help with arresting the man, and in that time the man was bitten. He was taken to the hospital and needed 14 staples.

Investigators have determined the use of force was “controlled, measured and appropriate for the circumstances,” after they read a number of reports and policies and listened to police transmission recordings.

The injury and hospitalization met the definition of a serious injury, which resulted in having the IIU mandated to investigate.

The man who was arrested is facing charges stemming from the incident.

For more information on this case visit the Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba’s website here. 

Health Officials Plan of Spacing out Vaccine Doses Improves Overall Fight Against COVID

According to officials, every eligible Manitoban could get one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by May 18th.

This after the decision was made to delay second dose vaccinations for the foreseeable future.

The timeline assumes vaccine shipments arrive steadily throughout the second quarter.

Under less ideal circumstances, Manitoba projects it could vaccinate every adult Manitoban against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 by the end of June.

This significantly shortens the timeline for administering the vaccine.

Before the province said that vaccinating the youngest of eligible Manitobans, those between 18 to 29 years of age would be done by the end of August at the earliest. 

Starting today, Manitoba will stop booking second-dose appointments.

Manitoba made the decision to delay second doses after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization said Wednesday that in the context of a limited vaccine supply. Now it recommends extending the interval between doses to four months.

Also starting today, Manitobans can book appointments for more than one person when they call the vaccine call centre. The phone number is 1-844-626-8222 (1-844-MAN-VACC). Daily hours of operation are from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. You will be screened to ensure you meet current eligibility criteria when you call to book an appointment.

The length of time between the first and second doses for the COVID-19 vaccine has been extended.

Manitoba’s vaccine task force has decided to begin lengthening the time between first and second doses for the vaccine to offer protection to more people faster.

The head of Manitoba’s vaccine task force, Dr. Joss Reimer, said new evidence suggests spacing out the doses by up to four months will still offer high levels of protection.

The initial recommendations from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine advise administering two doses of the vaccines spread apart by three and four weeks, respectively.

Across the country, B.C.’s top doctor announced plans on Monday to spread out doses by up to four months in that province.

Reimer said the province is following guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations.

So far more than 80,000 doses of the vaccines have been administered in Manitoba so far, including 30,000-second doses. About 2.7 percent of Manitobans 18 and older have been fully immunized.

Reimer did urge Manitobans who receive one dose not to get complacent. The second dose remains important for lasting immunity.

 

 

Registrations Start Today to Fill Vacant Councillor Seat

Residents of the Meadows-Waverly ward will be voting for their new council member on May 5th.

 

The City Council byelection has been scheduled to replace recently former councillor John LoRegio, who left to battle multiple myeloma.

 

To run in the byelection, a candidate must be a Canadian citizen who is 18 years old as of election day. They must also be residents of both Manitoba and Brandon.

 

If any employee from the city or a member of a city committee or board wishes to run, they must take a leave of absence from their responsibilities.

 

Registrations to run start today and end on March 30. Forms are available from the senior election official at Brandon City Hall.

 

The nomination period starts on March 24 and runs until March 30.

 

Both registration and nomination paperwork can be obtained from the senior election official, who can be reached by phone at 204-729-2236 or by emailing brandonvotes@brandon.ca.

 

Nomination papers must be signed by at least 25 voters from the Meadows-Waverly ward and must be accompanied by a statement of qualification.

More COVID-19 rules could be relaxed in the upcoming weeks.

The Manitoba government is considering rules that could see outdoor gathering sizes increase to 10, and allowing households to designate residents of a second home as part of a “bubble” for visits.

The capacity size at places of worship could also increase to 25 percent or 100 people, whichever is lower.

Retail, restaurants, and other businesses may also see rule changes that would allow almost all establishments to reopen. That would include capacity limits grow to 50 percent, but restaurant patrons would only be allowed to be with members of their household when dining.

Indoor theatres, indoor concert venues, bingo halls, and casinos would have to remain closed.

Officials are considering implementing some of the changes in two phases over a six-week period, starting as soon as March 5, with another round of changes on March 26.

Meanwhile, the seven-day average for daily COVID-19 cases is just above 70 and the five-day test positivity rate sat at 4.3 percent as of Thursday.

Small Segment Of Manitobans Can Now Book COVID Shots

Manitobans 95 and older and First Nations people 75 and over can now book appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine.

The provincial government announced the eligibility is for all Manitobans born Dec. 31, 1925, or earlier, and all First Nations people born Dec. 31, 1945, or earlier.

Family members and caregivers are allowed to call to make appointments for someone else, as well as accompany them to the clinic.

The number to call is 1-844-626-8222 and you will need the person who will be having the appointment’s number on their Manitoba Health card.

This will be the first time that members of the general public will become eligible to receive the vaccine in Manitoba.

Appointments for the first and second doses will be made at the same time.

The province is also starting to ramp up vaccination their vaccination numbers, with the goal of being able to administer 20,000 shots a day.

The next immunization supersite planned for Manitoba will be at the former Selkirk and District General Hospital at 100 Easton Dr. in Selkirk. 

When You Get The Covid Vaccine You Can Access Proof of the Shot

If you have had your COVID-19 vaccination, you can now get proof that you have it.

Manitobans will now be able to access and print out proof they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19, the province says.

Manitobans with a valid Manitoba Health card and a personal email address can access the information on this website (https://sharedhealthmb.ca/covid19/test-results/). The website can be used to see COVID-19 test results.

That information will show which vaccine they got and when they got it.

Health Minister Heather Stefanson says many Manitobans for their vaccination information. She says the proof from the website can be used until a more permanent immunization card is available later this spring.

According to the release, it will take about 48 hours before proof of vaccination is available online, though in some cases it could take up to a week.

People who can’t use the internet or don’t have a health card number can call their public health office to access proof-of-immunization information.

The Manitoba Government has announced that there are four more deaths and 167 new cases of COVID-19 in THE province

The data is total numbers from Monday and Tuesday since there was no announcement made Monday due to the Louis Riel Day holiday. The four deaths all came from the Winnipeg health region. The deaths were three men — one in his 60s, one in his 70s, and one in his 90s — and a woman in her 90s.

The majority of the 167 cases are from the Northern Health Region, which has 93. The Winnipeg health region has 51, the Interlake-Eastern health region has 13, the Southern Health region has eight, and the Prairie Mountain Health region has two new cases.

The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is up to 5.9 percent provincially and 4.5 percent in Winnipeg, which are increases from Sunday.

Meanwhile, a report of the B117 coronavirus variant that was found in Pauingassi First Nation has been confirmed negative. On Monday, Cross Lake First Nation also announced one probable case.

To date, there is only one confirmed case of a variant of concern in Manitoba. The person had traveled from Africa to Europe and then to Winnipeg before testing positive. Five household contacts were told to self-isolate.