Following Canada’s approval on Wednesday for Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine, officials are eyeing a rollout of initial doses next week.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that 30,000 doses are expected to arrive by Monday at 14 shipment points across the country.
“Up to 249,000 doses are coming this month, with millions more in the new year,” Trudeau wrote. Pfizer’s vaccine requires two doses, so the December shipment would cover nearly 125,000 people.
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A press release from Pfizer Canada states: “Pfizer Canada and BioNTech will supply the Government of Canada a minimum of 20 million doses (and up to 76 million doses) of the vaccine through 2021.”
Health Canada previously noted that the vaccine will be for anyone above the age of 16; children are excluded at this time because more research on the vaccine is needed for younger pediatric patients. The country’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has reportedly recommended that residents and staff of long-term care facilities, front-line health care workers, as well as adults 70 years of age or older and adults in Indigenous communities, should receive the initial vaccine doses.
A First Ministers meeting with Trudeau and premiers on Thursday addressed COVID-19 vaccine rollout, but also a significant issue about health transfers, where the federal government was requested to ramp up contributions to health expenses from 22% to 35%, reflecting an added $28 billion annually starting next year. Premier François Legault said that, despite a deficit, the federal government has a stronger financial capacity than provinces and territories in the long run.
“Regarding the vaccines, we finally see the light at the end of the tunnel but it’s urgent to know how many doses we will receive by the end of January and at what pace,” Legault added. “We need the answer to determine measures to be put in place for the coming weeks. So we will all coordinate to be able to vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible.”
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Canada became the third country worldwide to approve Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine within a week, following the U.K. and Bahrain.
Pfizer Canada President Cole Pinnow on Wednesday expressed excitement to offer relief to at-risk nursing homes and front-line workers. Pinnow said the company will start shipping doses on Friday, per Canada news outlet, CBC.
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Fox News’ Madeline Farber contributed to this report.