Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is concerned about the slow pace of the launch of the COVID-19 vaccine and is promising to increase mediocre vaccination numbers with the premieres during a conference call later this week.
Canada has received more than 424,050 doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines – but only 35 percent of those doses have been administered by the provinces, with some 148,000 Canadians having received an injection so far.
Ontario’s vaccination program has been particularly slow: only 50,000 doses have been administered in the province since the inoculation campaign began on December 15. If the province continues to administer just 2,500 vaccines per day, it will take more than a decade to vaccinate all adults in the province.
“I think Canadians, including me, are frustrated with seeing vaccines in freezers and not in people’s arms. That’s why we will continue to work closely with the provinces, both to provide vaccines to the provinces and to support them when need in terms of getting more vaccines for vulnerable populations and frontline workers as quickly as possible, “said Trudeau.
“Now is the time, with the new year coming up, to really accelerate and that’s what I’m going to talk to Prime Minister about on Thursday – how the federal government can support and help [with] provide vaccines even more quickly to Canadians, “he said, citing a planned meeting of prime ministers.
Ontario Prime Minister Doug Ford acknowledged today that there were some “bumps” – the provincial vaccination campaign was partially interrupted during the Christmas holidays – but he expects distribution to increase significantly in the coming days.
“Our message to the federal government is: just keep getting these vaccines because we’re going to run out. As soon as our machine starts up and is working … watch out, there is no one who can compete with us,” Ford said.
Ontario’s vaccination rate is currently among the lowest in the country in per capita terms.
Alberta, BC and PEI have so far administered most doses per capita across provinces and Manitoba has administered less.
Trudeau said Canada should have about a million doses of the vaccine on hand by the end of January – enough to inoculate 500,000 people with the two-dose vaccine regimen. He repeated his promise to get enough injections to vaccinate all adult Canadians who want an injection by the end of September.
While the US had its own logistical problems in the early days of this vaccination effort, the Americans had vaccinated almost four times as many people per capita than Canada.
More than 4.6 million people in the United States have already received an injection. The local federal government has delivered 15.4 million doses to states, territories and federal agencies.
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander who leads vaccine logistics for the Canadian Public Health Agency, said Canada will receive 208,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine each week for the next three weeks, while 171,000 Moderna vaccines are due to arrive on January 11. .
“We are ready for a sustained rate of vaccines throughout January,” said Fortin. “We are working diligently to ensure a continuous and predictable flow of vaccines.”
Fortin said his team at the national operations center will send more refrigerated storage equipment – freezers and thermal senders, among other tools – to help provinces establish more places to administer the temperature-sensitive Pfizer vaccine. At the start of the vaccination campaign, there were only 14 locations across the country where people could get the Pfizer vaccine.
“All of this will make it easier for different jurisdictions to administer vaccines safely and effectively,” he said.
Although all provinces have started to administer injections, most have stored the second dose to ensure that they have sufficient stock on hand.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s director of public health, said that because provinces can count on a specific number of doses arriving each week in the foreseeable future, they can start vaccinating as many people as possible.
“I think the provinces are trying not to withhold the second dose because they want to immunize the population more quickly with the first dose,” said Tam.
The work of distributing the vaccine reaches one of the darkest points of the pandemic. More than 16,000 people in Canada died after contracting the virus.