Manitoba was scheduled to dole out between 8,000 to 9,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine per day this week. So far, the province is doing a little more than half that. This weekend, the vaccine rollout is scheduled to scale down again, as it does most weekends. The province is expecting to administer just over 4,000 doses Easter Sunday.
Despite a shipment of over 123,000 doses expected to arrive in Manitoba this week from three separate suppliers, the province is projecting to administer only 5,000 to 9,000 doses a day over the next three weeks. That’s not even close to half the theoretical capacity of 20,918 daily doses the province claims it can do.
There is still no urgency here.
The excuses are piling up: the province says it’s falling behind on data entry, so not all numbers are up to date; the government had trouble hiring "navigators" at the RBC Convention Centre "super-site," which caused bottlenecks over the weekend; next week’s Moderna vaccine shipment is going to be late; it takes longer to get vaccines through smaller supply chains like pop-up clinics and focused immunization teams; the province is still not getting enough supply from the federal government.
Daily vaccines administeredClick to Expand
March 17 — 4,794
March 18 — 5,075
March 19 — 5,455
March 20 — 5,088
March 21 — 2,642
March 22 — 3,262
March 23 — 6,938
March 24 — 5,810
March 25 — 5,060
March 26 — 5,738
March 27 — 5,385
March 28 — 5,026
March 29 — 4,733
March 30 — 5,282
— Daily increases in total doses administered as reported on Manitoba COVID-19 vaccinations — summary statistics dashboard. Includes super-sites, pop-up clinics, focused immunization teams, pharmacies and medical clinics. Does not include First Nations.
The excuses are wearing thin. If there was a supply problem a month ago, there isn’t one now. The province has received 248,180 doses of vaccine (all of which it's had since March 26) and has administered 199,322 of them, including on First Nations, in pharmacies and medical clinics. The province still has an inventory of almost 50,000 doses, an amount that is expected to soar with the arrival of more shipments this week.
If data isn’t being entered into the system quickly enough, the province should hire data entry staff. While they're at it, they should fix the online vaccine reporting. Right now, the province is reporting two sets of conflicting data sets on how many vaccines are administered each day (both are showing the province is well behind in its projections).
Also, why the slowdown on weekends? The province has not been scheduling vaccinations through pop-up clinics or focused immunization teams on Sundays. People are still dying from COVID-19 and more contagious variants are spreading rapidly. This is not the time to take Sundays off.
Manitoba is getting at least 500,000 doses over the next nine weeks (likely far more), enough to do 8,000 doses a day, not including the nearly 50,000 doses sitting in freezers, or shipped to third parties.
Last week, provincial officials said all available doses were booked and they would run out in five days if no new supply arrived. New supply did arrive (just under 15,000 doses) and they’re nowhere near depleting their inventory. This week, the province said all available doses are booked and they would run out in seven days if more supply didn’t arrive. Over 123,000 doses are scheduled to arrive. At this rate, the province will be further behind this time next week.
There has been no ramping up of the vaccine program. The province has been averaging around 5,000 doses a day (not including First Nations, which are doing around 2,000 doses a week). Manitoba has been stuck at that level for two weeks. Provincial officials can’t blame it on delays in data entry because the data eventually gets caught up. If Manitoba was ramping up, an upward trend would emerge. It hasn’t.
Premier Brian Pallister continues to blame a lack of supply for the slow rollout, insisting the province could do far more if it had more doses from the federal government. It’s no longer just a tired excuse, it's an insult to Manitobans (one of the many reasons the premier's approval rating has taken a nosedive in the polls).
"There are going to be hiccups along the way," he said Wednesday.
These aren’t hiccups. This is evidence of a poorly rolled-out program.
The tens of thousands of doses still sitting in freezers should be in Manitobans’ arms. If they were, more people would be protected against serious illness, including death. This is a major failure.
Tom has been covering Manitoba politics since the early 1990s and joined the Winnipeg Free Press news team in 2019.