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Canada hits vaccination milestone: 20% have received at least 1 COVID-19 shot

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One-fifth of the Canadian population has now received at least one dose of a vaccine to protect against the deadly COVID-19 disease.

The country hit the milestone on Tuesday, having now administered a first dose to 7,689,563 people in Canada, or just over 20 per cent of the population, according to COVID Tracker Canada.

Read more: AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine not recommended for those under 55, NACI says

Canada has a population of about 37.7 million people. Approximately 31.5 million people are over the age of 16 and eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

To date, 2.1 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated, meaning they have received the required two doses of vaccine.

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Health Canada first approved a vaccine for use in December of 2020, green-lighting a shot from Pfizer-BioNTech. Days after it was approved, the first doses arrived in Canada and were administered.

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In the months since December, Health Canada approved three more vaccines from Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

However, lacking the capability to manufacture the shots at home, Canada has relied entirely on vaccines from overseas.

Due to this, the country has been at the mercy of a competitive global market, and has experienced repeated delays from manufacturers in its attempt to bring shots into Canada.

It has taken four months to deliver a first dose to 20 per cent of the Canadian public.

So far, the country has signed deals with a number of manufacturers to secure more than 400 million COVID-19 doses.

Read more: U.K. reaches milestone as half of all adults receive 1st COVID-19 vaccine dose

In comparison, the United States has administered nearly 190,000,000 COVID-19 shots, and fully vaccinated 22.3 per cent of its population.

U.S. President Joe Biden has said that 90 per cent of the American population would be eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine by April 19.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom has doled out 39,846,781 COVID-19 shots, and has fully vaccinated 14.5 per cent of its population.

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In March, the U.K. announced half of the country’s total population had received their first dose.

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In an effort to vaccinate more people faster, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has recommended provinces and territories delay delivering second doses up to four months.

All of the approved vaccines, except for the one from Johnson & Johnson, require two doses delivered some weeks apart.

Read more: Feds ‘in discussions’ to secure COVID-19 booster, variant shots: Health Canada

The federal government has announced it has signed a deal with Novavax to produce vaccines at home in a facility in Montreal currently under construction. However, doses are not expected to be manufactured within the country until at least the fall.

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Health Canada has also confirmed to Global News that the federal government is “in discussions” with vaccine developers to secure access to booster and variant vaccines when they become available, if deemed necessary.

September deadline?

The federal government has maintained that all Canadians who want a COVID-19 vaccine will have access to one by the end of September.

However, experts say in order to hit that target, Canada will need to significantly ramp up its deliveries.

Read more: U.K. study underway to test COVID-19 vaccine mixing. Should Canada follow suit?

In a previous interview, Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, told Global News in order to hit that target, we would have to deliver 400,000 doses per day.

Something he said is “achievable.”

“At some point, we’ll start involving primary care physicians and pharmacies on a scale that will allow for a lot faster inoculation, which is what should have been done in the first place,” he said.

–With a file from Global News’ Emerald Bensadoun

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