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The Manitoba government’s rollout of COVID-19 vaccines was effective and widespread, but its paper-based consent forms were a hurdle that needs to be changed, auditor general Tyson Shtykalo said Wednesday.

In a 55-page report, Shtykalo said the government followed national guidelines in prioritizing demographic and occupational groups for vaccines when they first became available.

Shtykalo also approved of the government’s decision to distribute vaccines through a wide variety of channels – mass-vaccination supersites, smaller locations such as neighbourhood pharmacies and outreach programs to vulnerable populations.

By March of last year, 89 per cent of Manitobans had received at least one shot, the report found.

Shtykalo said one area that should change is the requirement for people to fill out paper consent forms before getting their shots.

“The [workers] had to get the consent and then record the information by inputting it into computer systems after the fact, which took a lot more resources administratively,” he said.

“And also, whenever you’re using a paper-based method, it does bring up certain risks related to the accuracy and completeness of the data.”

Shtykalo also said the government needs to reinstitute a central depot of emergency supplies.

“The government of Manitoba had previously met this commitment and kept a stockpile of masks, gowns, syringes and other resources that would be necessary in a pandemic. However, the provincial government closed down this program in 2016,” the report states.

Health Minister Audrey Gordon said the province accepts the recommendations and is moving toward electronic documents.

“We will certainly be looking at ways to digitize and improve our systems,” Gordon told reporters.

The province is also setting up a new emergency response warehouse, the Health department said in its formal response to the auditor’s report. The effort will include the rotation of stockpile supplies into normal use in order to avoid items expiring.