Regulators are expected to approve Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in a matter of days
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced that several hundred thousand doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will be available in Canada before the end of the year — shots primarily earmarked for long-term care home residents and the staffers working there.
Trudeau said up to 249,000 doses of the two-dose vaccine will be on hand by year’s end to launch a mass inoculation campaign, which is expected to take many months to complete.
The first doses will arrive as some provinces — notably Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec — grapple with a sharp increase in COVID-19 caseloads and deaths.
Trudeau said these doses will be delivered by the company directly to 14 distribution centres now equipped with the necessary cold storage. This particular vaccine must be stored at -80 C — which will make the logistics of distribution “incredibly complex,” Trudeau said.
The vaccines will be distributed to jurisdictions on a per-capita basis, meaning each province will receive vaccine doses in numbers proportionate to their share of the population. The vaccine will not be sent to the territories for the time being, as they now lack the capacity to safely store the Pfizer product.
While the exact location of each of the 14 distribution centres has not yet been disclosed, some provinces, including Newfoundland & Labrador, have said the Pfizer product will be stored at major hospitals in urban areas.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) said last week the limited initial quantity of doses should be reserved for people who are most at risk of contracting the virus and developing severe symptoms — elderly residents of long-term care and assisted living facilities, retirement homes and chronic care hospitals, and the staff who care for them.
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