With deliveries expanding, Canada on track to offer doses to all, even those newly eligible: Fortin
OTTAWA -- The military general leading the logistics of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout says that even with the number of Canadians who are now eligible to be immunized expanding, the country is expecting to have enough doses arriving to offer vaccines to everyone who wants them in the months ahead.
The federal government’s target before Canadians ages 12 to 15 were given the green light from Health Canada to receive Pfizer-BioNTech shots, was to have all willing and eligible Canadians fully vaccinated by the end of September.
While Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin indicated on Thursday that there shouldn’t be any issue in giving all eligible Canadians their first shots by the summer, he didn’t outright confirm that everyone will have the second shot by the end of September, though the long-term delivery outlook indicates it’s doable.
“We’re definitely getting an increasing amount of vaccines… I think if we look in the coming weeks and months, we'll have sufficient quantity of doses for provinces and territories to offer a vaccine to all those Canadians who want it, perhaps sooner than originally anticipated,” Fortin said.
Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo told reporters that across Canada there are approximately 1.63 million people aged 12 to 15 that are now able to receive a vaccine.
As Fortin pointed out: “1.63 million adolescents is less than a week's worth of Pfizer doses.”
“So, there will be sufficient vaccines in [the] country to vaccinate earlier than initially anticipated with the first dose,” he said, adding that he’ll defer to the provinces and territories to say when those shots will be offered, with some already planning to open up appointments to younger people.
In total, Fortin said to-date more than 18 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been delivered to, and distributed across Canada since the start of the mass vaccination effort, with plans for the cumulative total to hit 25 million doses by the end of May.
The government has previously said that by the end of this quarter there will be approximately 44 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines delivered to Canada.
“We have now reached that big lift period where weekly deliveries are more significant,” Fortin said Thursday, adding that provinces are “significantly increasing their ability to administer at scale.”
In recent weeks several provinces have opened up new vaccination sites such as drive-throughs and walk-in clinics, and have started adding Moderna and Pfizer to the list of vaccines certain pharmacies are being able to administer.
Pfizer will be delivering two million doses a week this month, growing to 2.4 million doses a week in June. The next shipment of one million doses of Moderna is expected the week of May 17 with the government still trying to lock in a more reliable future delivery schedule. When it comes to AstraZeneca, the government says it expects the next shipment of 655,000 doses to come from Canada’s COVAX contract before the end of the month, and another one million from the main AstraZeneca contract in June.
“I think there's new energy and new optimism that you know, as we're getting more vaccines, you know, into the country and then also provinces ramping up their vaccination efforts… I think we're on track and I think it bodes well for the summer,” said Njoo, suggesting that as vaccine eligibility expands each week, people who are waiting their turn should look into how they’ll be able to register and offer help to others they know when the time comes.