Manitoba is expanding its eligibility criteria for second booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin made that announcement last Friday morning.

Effective Friday, the following Manitobans are now eligible:

  • individuals aged 50 or older who live in the community (previously aged 70 or older);
  • First Nations, Inuit and Métis people aged 30 or older, regardless of where they live (previously aged 50 or older);
  • individuals aged 18 to 49 years who are moderately to severely immunocompromised (new); and
  • residents of any age of personal care homes and elderly persons housing congregate living sites.

The province is also shortening the intervals to be eligible for booster doses. The first booster can now be given four months after the person's primary vaccine series (usually two doses). The second booster dose can now be given four months after the first booster.

Meanwhile, Dr. Roussin says the COVID-19 situation is fairly stable in Manitoba. He notes in our province, COVID-19 cases in this wave have predominantly been of the BA.2 variant. Dr. Roussin says it appears both hospital and ICU admissions have now peaked.

Eligibility for COVID-19 treatment now includes adults who have symptoms that began within the last five to seven days, tested positive with either a rapid antigen or PCR test, and are at higher risk for severe illness because they:

  • are not fully vaccinated;
  • have not received a booster dose;
  • have not been previously infected with COVID-19;
  • are an older adult, as risk increases with age;
  • have one or more chronic medical conditions;
  • are moderately to severely immunocompromised, due to a medical condition or treatment;
  • are obese; or
  • are pregnant.

Some people who have received all of the vaccine doses they are eligible for may still be eligible for treatment if they are at higher risk for more severe outcomes for other reasons.

These criteria are broader than the requirements previously in place and people who may be eligible should speak with their health-care provider to determine which treatment may be right for them. Treatment criteria for young people under the age of 18 remains unchanged.

Paxlovid is an antiviral pill that can be prescribed to treat COVID-19 and is now more broadly available. People can now fill their Paxlovid prescription at more than 175 community pharmacies across the province.