A significant amount of work will begin as doctors find ways to best connect with Manitobans who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Manitoba's Premier, Kelvin Goertzen, is being joined by his health minister, the president of Doctors Manitoba, the president of Pharmacists Manitoba, and  Manitoba College of Family Physicians' board director Tuesday morning at a City Centre health centre to discuss COVID-19 vaccine outreach.

"The vaccination effort and the uptake by Manitobans have been significant, it has been heroic, and it is has been one of the great successes that we have seen through this pandemic," Goertzen says in the press conference. "But every vaccination matters. Everyone is important and there are many more that have to be done."

The premier says unvaccinated Manitobans are not listening to politicians but is hopeful they will listen to their own doctors and pharmacists. Health and Seniors Care Minister Audrey Gordon is announcing that close to $14 million will be going towards COVID-19 vaccine outreach, saying this will increase targeted local outreach.

"Physicians and pharmacists will be able to develop their own strategies to connect with patients in their homes and communities, building on their local knowledge," Gordon says. 

The funding is set to give doctors and pharmacists opportunities for community-focused and one-on-one outreach with patients that are identified as not being fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The funding will be going towards administrative costs and physician fees connected to the outreach, including creating a roster of Manitobans who are not fully vaccinated.

Dr. Kristjan Thompson, the president of Doctors Manitoba, says this new initiative will give doctors and patients the chance to talk about the vaccine and answer questions.

"We ask the opportunity to discuss your concerns before you make a final decision," Thompson says.

Dr. Kristjan Thompson, President of Doctors Manitoba, is thanking the province for listening to concerns and advice coming from doctors. Screenshot: Government of Manitoba/YouTube)Dr. Kristjan Thompson, President of Doctors Manitoba, is thanking the province for listening to concerns and advice coming from doctors. Screenshot: Government of Manitoba/YouTube)

Thompson says as an emergency room physician at St. Boniface Hospital he sees the sickest of the sickest COVID-19 patients. At the end of the third wave, the doctor says he went weeks without seeing a COVID-19 patient.

"Vaccination has completely changed the game. We finally found a way to win; to beat the virus. Unfortunately, however, over the last two weeks, I have started seeing COVID patients in my ER. And every single COVID patient I've seen has been unvaccinated."

Doctors Manitoba, the Manitoba College of Family Physicians and the University of Manitoba will be working together to develop training for this outreach program to show physicians and pharmacists how best to connect with their patients about the vaccine.