Some Manitobans having trouble finding a booster shot before the new year

The province is pushing for eligible Manitobans to get their booster shot as soon as possible, but some people are having trouble finding an available dose before the holidays.

St. Vital resident Ginette Chevrier is immunocompromised, and recently she qualified for her third dose of the vaccine, but when she tried to book an appointment at her local pharmacy, she had trouble finding a timely appointment.

“They informed me they cannot give me my booster shot because they only receive 12 doses per week. They referred me to another pharmacy and they had the same issue,” said Chevrier.

In Wednesday’s public health update, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin made it clear that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has arrived in Manitoba, and the best protection against the new strain is to get vaccinated.

“If that means your first or second dose, we need that,” said Roussin.

“If it means you’re eligible now for your third dose, we need as many Manitobans to get that vaccine in the next two weeks, before what we know is going to be a large amount of people gathering during our holiday season.”

Chevrier said the provincial announcement gave her the impression she could get her booster shot before the holiday season, instead she’s settling for an appointment in the new year.

“So finally I succeeded in calling RBC Centre and the only availability they had for me was January 19th.”

CTV News reached out to more than a dozen pharmacies in Winnipeg and the earliest time we could find was Dec. 30.

Past president of Pharmacists Manitoba, Ashley Hart said booster availability will differ in pharmacies across the province.

“I know there’s vaccine out there, I know our pharmacy specifically is booked but I know other pharmacies in our group for example have vaccines,” said Hart.

“There’s definitely available vaccine it’s just a matter of tracking it down.”

Hart said she understands the frustration some residents are experiencing, but the best way to find available booster shots in the province is to call around, and use the vaccine finder map on the ProtectMB website.

Chevrier said she has called around but with no luck, and she’s concerned COVID case numbers could climb if people like her have to wait until the new year for their third dose.

“Give us boosters before Christmas, we need them now,” said Chevrier.

The province said evidence suggests any decrease in protection from the Omicron variant can likely be overcome by getting a booster shot.

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