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Elderly, frontline health workers should be among first to receive COVID-19 vaccine: feds

Last Updated Dec 4, 2020 at 11:28 am PST

FILE - Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Friday, Sept. 4, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam released the COVID-19 vaccine federal guidelines on Friday

Feds exercising the option to purchase another 20 million doses of the Moderna vaccine

OTTAWA – Canada has released its COVID-19 vaccine priority list, saying the elderly, workers in health and long-term care, and Indigenous communities should be first in line for the shots when they’re available.

Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam released the federal guidelines on Friday.

“NACI (National Advisory Committee on Immunization) recommends that initial doses of authorized COIVD-19 vaccines should be offered to residents and staff of congregate living settings that provide care for seniors, adults 70 years of age and older, beginning with adults 80 years of age and older. Healthcare workers, including all those who work in healthcare settings and personal support workers, whose work involves direct contact with patients. Adults in Indigenous communities, where infection can have disproportionate consequences,” Tam said.

However, these are guidelines only, and the final say will be made by the provinces and territories.

The recommendations have been put together as part of the federal government’s plan, which is informed by public health, scientific and medical experts, and NACI.

Tam said she expects the initial round of six million doses Canada is expecting to receive should cover the people in these four categories.

“Canada is well positioned to provide access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for all Canadians,” she said, once again noting a limited supply of doses is expected early next year.

By Friday, Canada had recorded 396,270 cases of COVID-19, including 12,407 deaths, Tam said. There are 69,255 active cases across Canada.

She stressed that trust and collaboration are key in the fight against COVID-19. Tam also said Canada needs to be prepared for any possible logistical and operational challenges when it comes to the distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccines.

The government also announced on Friday that it is exercising its option to purchase another 20 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, which has yet to receive approval. This brings the total of vaccines the country is buying to 40 million doses.

Moderna is one of the frontrunners along with Pfizer, the latter receiving approval for emergency use in the U.K. earlier this week.

Pfizer and its partner, BioNTech, are submitting their final documents on Friday, with approval possible as early as next week.

Despite the approaching milestone in the fight against COVID-19, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Canadians about celebrating too quickly.

He once again stressed that everyone needs to continue to work to keep themselves and others safe, pointing to a rising number of cases across the country.

Trudeau called the spike in some parts of Canada “alarming,” and said we need to get the situation under control.

“Cases are too high and hospitals are filling up,” he said.

Trudeau also highlighted the distribution plan unveiled by his government, which is expected to be ready to receive a vaccine as early as Dec. 14.