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Manitoba eyes shift to larger centres for temporary COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The Manitoba government is changing its COVID-19 vaccination strategy slightly to get shots in arms more quickly.

Temporary pop-up clinics that have so far focused on getting the Moderna vaccine out to many small rural communities will be used next week at fewer but larger centres.

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The province’s vaccine task force says that will likely include a pop-up site in Winnipeg, to add to the existing mass vaccination site at the convention centre.

“We will be adjusting the use of pop-up clinics so that we use them mainly in locations where they are necessary,” explained Johanu Botha, co-lead of Manitoba’s vaccine implementation task force said Wednesday.

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“We’ll be finalizing that approach in the days ahead, but I think it is fair to say that Manitobans can, for the short term, expect fewer but faster options.”

The move could mean more than 9,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine shifted away from rural areas into the more densely-populated city, which has consistently seen the province’s highest daily case counts of COVID-19.

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According to the province’s latest data, 299,821 doses of vaccine have been administered since December, including 231,103 first doses and 68,718 second shots.

On Wednesday the province expanded eligibility at super sites or pop-up clinics to include those aged 59 or older and First Nation people aged 39 or older.

The province also announced plans to open a second vaccine supersite in the Southern Health Region in May.

The new clinic will be located at 294 Lumber Ave. in Steinbach, and the province says it will provide more details on when appointments can be made closer to when the site opens.

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Last week the province announced a second supersite will open in Winnipeg May 7 at the Winnipeg Soccer Federation’s facility on Leila Avenue in the Garden City neighbourhood.

In all the province plans to open 13 supersites across Manitoba.

— With files from Shane Gibson

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