Canada now has enough COVID-19 vaccine doses to fully vaccinate all eligible citizens: PM
OTTAWA -- Canada currently has enough doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country to fully vaccinate every eligible person over the age of 12, with more than 66 million doses received as of Tuesday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau marked the vaccine milestone at a Moncton, N.B. vaccination clinic.
“Back in the winter I made a promise that we would have enough vaccines for all eligible Canadians by the end of September. Not only have we kept that promise, we've done it two months ahead of schedule,” Trudeau said.
In June, Trudeau promised that by the end of this month, Canada would have received “over 68 million” doses of COVID-19 vaccines, prompting an acceleration to his initial plans for a "one-dose summer" and "two-dose fall."
Procurement Minister Anita Anand echoed the announcement later on Tuesday, confirming that by the end of the week, Canada will have received 68 million shots, with millions more coming in the next two months.
“We have procured in total 51 million doses of Pfizer, 44 million doses of Moderna, and we will receive 95 million doses of both of those vaccine manufacturers prior to the end of September,” said Anand.
Reflecting on the rollout, Anand—who led the government’s deal-making with companies to secure doses— said the federal strategy was “one of negotiation, and negotiation, and negotiation.”
As of Tuesday morning, according to CTV News’ vaccine tracker, 80 per cent of the eligible population has received a first dose, while just over 63 per cent of those eligible are fully vaccinated. After trailing behind for months, Canada now has a larger percentage of its population fully vaccinated than any other G7 country.
'NO MORE EXCUSES'
While more than 26 million of the eligible 33 million Canadians have rolled up their sleeves, the push is now on to try to reach the outstanding people who are vaccine hesitant or have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine for other reasons.
Trudeau sought to encourage those still on the fence, reminding people that the vaccines have been authorized as safe and effective by Health Canada, that what the country is seeing is that “overwhelming majority” of new cases are in people who are either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, and the consequences of getting COVID-19 can be serious.
“With enough doses for everyone, there's no more excuses to not get your shot,” Trudeau said, encouraging those who have held off to think about their loved ones, the children in their lives, and the health care workers who have been on the front lines for a year and half.
“It's about stepping up to do the right thing, as Canadians have been doing all throughout this pandemic,” he said, noting that the unvaccinated will be “missing out” on taking part in going forward, citing international travel as an example.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu also spoke about the challenge those who are unwilling to get vaccinated are posing to the country’s overall ability to get through and out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My worry as a Canadian health minister is that if we head into the fall and we have too many people that are unvaccinated, it gives the virus an opportunity to attack the people we love… It puts the risk of our recovery—it makes the risk so much more elevated,” she said.
ROLLOUT NOT WITHOUT ISSUES
While Canada’s vaccine rollout has been boosted by large deliveries of doses in recent months — making it possible to rapidly administer second doses — the national mass immunization campaign has not been without its issues.
Since the first COVID-19 vaccines were administered in Canada on December 14, 2020, the rollout has been marked by wildly different challenges including a shortage of doses in some places and seemingly a surplus in others; some Canadians received their two shots just four weeks apart, while others waited four months.
The evolving immunization strategy prompted by supply issues and adverse reaction concerns has resulted in some folks receiving mixed-dose regimes. And, anyone hoping for a single-shot vaccine had their hopes dashed when the only delivery of Johnson & Johnson doses was rejected due to quality control issues. There was also the logistical challenges—from procuring enough needles and cold-storage freezers to setting up administration sites in sometimes unorthodox locations—taken on by each province and territory with help from a military-led federal operations centre within the Public Health Agency of Canada.
On Tuesday, Anand and Hajdu joined representatives from the vaccine companies as well as FedEx Canada and Innomar Strategies, who were contracted by the federal government to help with the delivery and distribution of vaccines at an event marking the vaccine milestone.
“Throughout this pandemic we have rightly thanked our frontline health care workers… Today I would like to thank with immense gratitude, another set of Canadians who have stepped up, and that's all of you here today… Canadians in the back rooms, who are making sure that we are able to get vaccines into this country,” Anand said, recalling the countless calls, emails, and texts they exchanged over the course of the procurement effort.
Now, the conversation is turning to how long the vaccines will provide protection, and whether evolving variants may prompt booster doses, meaning that while the initial vaccine rollout may be tapering off, COVID-19 and ways to keep future waves at bay will be an ongoing focus for governments and public health officials.
As well, studies are ongoing into the possibility of expanding COVID-19 vaccine access to children under the age of 12, specifically in the ages five to 11 demographic. Pfizer is expecting some early results by the fall, but won’t likely have its work completed to submit to Health Canada for authorization until later in the year.
Anand said that regardless of whether additional doses would be needed or when younger children may be cleared to be immunized against the novel coronavirus, Canada will have the supply.
“We have enough supply for all eligible Canadians and the remainder for additional needs that our country has including additional age groups, or boosters, if the science deems that that is appropriate,” she said.