By Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Manitoba will open appointments for a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to everyone as the provincial government rolls out a program to hire people who have received their shots.
All Manitobans who are eligible to get a vaccine will be able to book an appointment starting Friday.
“We want it to be your turn to be immunized as quickly as possible,” said Johanu Botha, who works with the group organizing the vaccine rollout.
Botha said the plan is to give more than 9,000 doses a day.
Hours at two supersites in Winnipeg will be expanded to get more people jabbed, he said. Pharmacies and community clinics will also be getting shipments.
More than 1.2 million doses have been administered in the province so far. About 100,000 doses have been administered in the last five days.
The province saw a delayed third wave of the pandemic that brought significant infections and hospitalizations last month. Public-health orders were put in place to curb the surge.
Those numbers have been steadily dropping over the last week, prompting the province to begin loosening restrictions on Saturday — a week earlier than expected in its reopening plan.
There were 104 new cases and two more deaths Thursday. There were 212 Manitobans hospitalized due to COVID-19, including 12 patients in intensive-care units in other provinces.
Botha said the province is expecting a significant increase in Moderna vaccines in the coming weeks. At the same time, the number of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines was expected to drop. That is the only vaccine approved for youth between the ages of 12 and 17.
Botha said parents who have a Pfizer appointment can give it their child and get a Moderna vaccine for themselves.
Premier Brian Pallister said earlier Thursday that vaccinations were essential to getting more freedom back this summer.
His Progressive Conservative government is rolling out a program that Pallister says will get people back to work and motivate employers to hire staff who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
The $30-million Healthy Hire program will provide businesses with a grant equivalent to 50 per cent of wages for up to 10 employees, with a maximum of $5,000 per person.
To get the subsidy, employees must be fully vaccinated or show that is their intention if they are still waiting for a dose.
Pallister said it’s a way for Manitobans to get their lives back and see their neighbours working again.
The subsidy will be available for anyone hired between June 10 and Oct. 15.
Employers that are already participating in other government programs may still receive the funding.