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Canada prepping vaccine rollout ahead of approval for quick distribution

FILE - This May 4, 2020, file photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, shows the first patient enrolled in Pfizer's COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. (Courtesy of University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP, File)

Canada is getting ready for its vaccine rollout while waiting for approval

Once Health Canada approves a vaccine, distribution will start, says procurement minister Anita Anand

Four vaccines are under review in Canada

OTTAWA  — Canada is putting its vaccine rollout plans into overdrive to ensure the country will be ready for speedy distribution, according to a federal minister.

While there’s no firm timeline on when a vaccine will be available, Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand says the date essentially comes down to scientists at Health Canada.

“We are going to roll them out to Canadians as soon as Health Canada has given its approval,” she says.

There is a lot of preparation for getting vaccines into communities, Anand says. For instance, both Pfizer and Moderna require deep cold storage, so Anand explains Canada has been securing thermal freezers ahead of time.

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“But we’re going to be receiving vaccines from multiple suppliers,” she adds.

The federal government is also assisting provinces with acquiring necessary supplies, like needles, gauze, and bandages.

On Tuesday, Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu says Johnson & Johnson has submitted its COVID-19 vaccine candidate for approval, becoming the fourth vaccine in the running for the country.

Health Canada has been examining vaccine candidates from Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca since October, when those companies sent partial data on their drugs for what’s called a “rolling review.”

If the Johnson & Johnson vaccine meets Health Canada’s standards for safety and effectiveness, the Canadian government says it has a deal to buy 10 million doses and an option to buy up to 28 million more.

Deputy Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said last week Canada is expecting six-million doses of vaccines in the first quarter of 2021.