The Ontario government has released further details on how the delay in the delivery of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will affect the province’s immunization plan.
In documents released Tuesday, officials said the known delivery reductions to Ontario are “substantial” and vary week to week.
On Tuesday, Maj.-Gen. Danny Fortin, who is leading the country’s COVID-19 vaccine logistics, said Canada will get no doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine during the week of Jan. 25.
For the week of Jan. 18, documents from the Ontario government show there will be a five per cent cut, from 83 to 80 Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine trays.
“The news from the federal government today that Canada won’t get any new Pfizer vaccines next week and far fewer than expected in the coming weeks, it’s troubling,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Tuesday.
“Every day we’re giving out less vaccines than we have the capacity to administer is a day we lose because this vaccine is the difference between life and death for the most vulnerable.”
Tuesday’s documents from the Ontario government indicate that all new first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are now reserved for long-term care and high-risk retirement homes, in addition to northern fly-in First Nations. The government says it will reallocate the Moderna coronavirus vaccine to more areas in order to reserve the Pfizer vaccine for sites that need the inventory to give second doses.
Officials say they’ll protect the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine through week-by-week allocation and by extending the dosing intervals.
For those who’ve received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine outside of long-term care and high-risk retirement homes, the interval between doses will be 21 to 42 days. The government says there will be no change for vaccine dose intervals at long-term care and high-risk retirement homes due to the older populations who live there.
The government also says there will be no change in the interval of doses for the Moderna vaccine.
“We are well on our way to meeting our target of delivering these vaccines to all long-term care homes across the province by Feb. 15,” Ford said Tuesday.
Documents indicate the Ontario government will communicate projected vaccine allocations to support local planning and to determine where reallocations may be needed.
As of noon Tuesday, the Ontario government says more than 226,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered across the province.
More than 83,000 long-term care residents, caregivers and staff have been vaccinated, while more than 25,000 retirement home residents, caregivers and staff have also been immunized. More than 99,000 health-care workers in other sectors in Ontario have also been innoculated.
The Ontario government started administering second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 5. This has resulted in more than 25,000 Ontarians being fully immunized and having received both doses, as of Monday evening.
The first round of COVID-19 vaccinations have been administered at all long-term care homes in hotspot regions, including Toronto, Peel, York and Windsor-Essex.
The first dose of coronavirus vaccinations have also been given at all long-term care facilities in the Ottawa Public Health Region, Durham Region and the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.
Ford said he’s “very angry” that Canada won’t receive any COVID-19 vaccine doses from Pfizer-BioNTech next week.
“Given the interruption in supply, we remain somewhat hesitant about what will occur after 15 February,” retired Gen. Rick Hillier, who’s leading Ontario’s vaccine rollout, said Tuesday.
“We will watch and see what the supply brings to us and we’re going to be ready to handle it.”
Hillier said the Ontario government will “guarantee” second COVID-19 vaccine doses in long-term care and high risk retirement homes.
“We have some short-term shortages, some short-term disruptions to the allocations, but we will make up in late February and March what we have missed,” Hillier said.
“In the first quarter, our Phase 1, we will have the same number of vaccines allocated to us that we expected all along and that we’ve been planning to use. Obviously, we’re now looking at that with a little bit of caution just to make sure that we do see that supply arriving.”
Hillier said the province should still be able to vaccinate all Ontarians by late summer but that it “all comes back to the arrival of the vaccines.”
The news that Canada won’t receive any Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines next week comes less than one week after it was announced that there would be a shipment delay in the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. This is due to the fact that the company is ramping up its European manufacturing capacity, which will affect the vaccine’s production.
— With files from Global News’ Abigail Bimman and Rachel Gilmore