Public health authorities on Prince Edward Island are expecting a first shipment of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine before the end of the year.
The vaccine received approval from Health Canada for individuals aged 18 and over on Wednesday, December 23. As the recently approved Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, currently in distribution for health professionals in PEI, the Modern vaccine will require two doses. Health Canada says the vaccine has been shown to be 94 percent effective in clinical trials; no major safety issues or life-threatening side effects were observed in clinical trials, which involved more than 30,000 participants.
An e-mailed statement from the Chief Department of Public Health said that public health officials have yet to confirm the number of doses of the vaccine that will reach the PEI later this year. The first doses of the Moderna vaccine will be prioritized for residents of long-term care homes.
“We expect to receive enough vaccine to immunize several hundred long-term residents (the first vaccine, as well as the second 28 days later),” said the statement.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada will receive up to 168,000 doses of the vaccine this month. The federal government has a contract with Moderna to supply a total of 40 million doses of the vaccine by the end of 2021.
The Modern vaccine will require storage at -20 C. The vaccine will be easier for local public health officials to administer in rural areas of the province than the Pfizer vaccine, which requires storage at -70 C. The Pfizer vaccine has been administered so far for health professionals and long-term care workers at a central location at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown.
On Tuesday, director of public health Heather Morrison said 1,500 health workers received their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. A second dose will be administered to these individuals in the coming weeks.
From now until the end of March, the implementation of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines will be limited to frontline health professionals, residents and long-term care staff, individuals aged 70 and over and adults living in indigenous people communities.