Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned that the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer will be watching “very, very closely” to ensure that none of their hotly anticipated coronavirus vaccines is going to go to waste.
“So they will be looking very, very closely at our ability to do that.”
His comment comes on the heels of the announcement that Canadians could start receiving the Pfizer vaccine as soon as next week – pending its Health Canada approval, which Trudeau said is expected this week.
Trudeau explained that since the vaccine requires two doses, the initial shipment of up to 249,000 doses will be going to the same people – meaning Canada must not only be getting the vaccine doses into Canadian communities but must then ensure those select Canadians that receive the first jab also all get their second shot no more than three weeks later.
“We’re facing the largest immunization in the history of our country,” he said.
“This is no small task, which is why we have a clear plan. Our government, through the national operations centre, has been working with the provinces and territories to ensure we’re ready to roll out vaccine doses as soon as they’re approved and delivered.
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However, Canada can’t receive the coronavirus vaccines until Pfizer is assured the provinces and territories are ready to receive those doses, Procurement Minister Anita Anand said, speaking in the same Monday press conference.
“Before those shipments occur, Pfizer needs to be assured that the provinces and territories are ready, in fact, to receive those doses,” Anand said.
She explained that Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is leading the Canadian military’s role in coordinating vaccine rollout logistics, is already working alongside provinces and territories to ensure their readiness.
“Once we are assured of provincial and territorial readiness to receive, then we will be able to pass the baton to the provinces and territories. So the last kilometre, in fact, is with the provincial and territorial jurisdictions and we will carry the baton as far as we can along that line,” Anand said.
Trudeau explained that once these vaccines arrive on Canadian soil, they’ll be distributed on a per-capita basis – meaning provinces and territories will receive equal shares of the vaccines in relation to their population.
“Next week’s distribution will happen through 14 different sites that have been identified across the country, one in each province and two in our four largest provinces,” Trudeau explained.
“This is to be able to initially get doses out to the most vulnerable people, but also to demonstrate and to operationalize what is going to be an incredibly complex mobilization of vaccines across the country.”
Canada has also identified four priority groups who will receive vaccines first: residents and staff at seniors’ residences, Canadians over the age of 70, frontline health-care workers, and adults in Indigenous communities.