First COVID vaccines could be distributed as early as next week

Canada could receive up to 249,000 initial doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine next week, pending Health Canada approval.

Fourteen vaccination sites will be prepped and ready to go this week in anticipation of vaccine administration next week, Prime Minister announced on Monday.

Coordination of the delivery will be led by former NATO commander Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin out of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s “National Operations Centre” in Ottawa. 

As Pfizer’s vaccine requires two shots to be effective, about 124,000 people will be vaccinated by the 249,000 doses.

Each province will have one vaccine site, where vaccines will be administered, while larger provinces will have two, Trudeau told reporters on Monday.

Distribution will be on a per capita basis. As for who gets it first, the government is following the recommendations of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).

Trudeau said the “most vulnerable” will be immunized first, and his government is working with “northern premiers and Indigenous leaders” to get the shots to those harder-to-reach communities.

Not all of Pfizer’s vaccines will arrive at once. Trudeau said the initial rollout will allow officials to work out delivery logistics and prepare for the millions of vaccine doses scheduled to arrive next year. He did not say when, exactly.

Pfizer’s vaccine poses the extra challenge of needing to be stored at – 80 C.

Ottawa has also signed agreements with Medicago; AstraZeneca; Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline; Novavax; and Moderna, for a total of 76 million doses.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives want the Liberal government to release a complete distribution plan by Dec.16. They also want to know when every Canadian will have access to a vaccine, when other vaccines will become available, how many Canadians will get vaccinated each month, and how the government is calculating “herd immunity.”

“These are the same questions that premiers, our military, and everyday Canadians have been asking for weeks,” Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said in a statement on Monday. “It’s unacceptable that the prime minister still doesn’t have any answers.”

Meanwhile, government officials in Ontario are working with Pfizer to determine if the company can provide vaccinations in nursing homes, said retired general Rick Hillier, who’s responsible for the vaccine rollout in Ontario, speaking to reporters in Toronto on Monday.

Residents and staff at long-term care homes, along with family members providing essential care of residents, will take priority, Hillier said.

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