MONTREAL (NEWS 1130) – As COVID-19 vaccines arrive on Canadian soil, the focus is now shifting to when the first people will start rolling up their sleeves for the shots.
While it’s unclear when exactly B.C. plans to begin its immunization rollout, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix are set to provide more details on the province’s plan on Monday.
They have already indicated the first shots will be administered at two locations — one in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and the other in the Fraser Health region.
The first British Columbians to get the vaccine will be front-line and health-care workers connected to long-term care facilities and those working in intensive care, emergency departments, and hospitals where COVID-19 patients are being treated.
Next will be residents of long-term care homes, then seniors over the age of 80, followed by those in high-risk living conditions, including those in shelters and remote or isolated Indigenous communities.
By April, other frontline workers, like paramedics, grocery store workers, and teachers, will be eligible for the vaccine, with the general population in increments after that.
Quebec and Ontario are set to be the first provinces to begin administering shots, with plans to do so on Monday.
Manitoba and Alberta have announced they plan to start Wednesday, while Saskatchewan is also expected to start its pilot this week.
Vaccines arrive in Canada
Some of the first doses of the drug are now on the way to distribution sites in the provinces. The prime minister confirmed the arrival of the first Pfizer shipment on Sunday, with more expected to come on Monday.
“This is good news. But our fight against COVID-19 is not over,” Justin Trudeau wrote on Twitter. “Now more than ever, let’s keep up our vigilance. Keep wearing your masks, washing your hands, avoiding gatherings, and using #COVIDAlert.”
The first batch of doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine have arrived in Canada. pic.twitter.com/xSvwkRROKo
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) December 14, 2020
Procurement Minister Anita Anand confirmed 30,000 doses of the vaccine are expected between Sunday and Monday as part of Canada’s initial 20 million doses of the Pfizer drug.
Welcoming the 1st #COVID19vaccines to tonight!
The 1st 30K doses of #PfizerBioNTech are arriving across the country tonight & tomorrow initial deliveries of ’s 20M doses of this vaccine.
While we have a long way to go, this marks the beginning of our bridge to recovery. pic.twitter.com/9jpJIlYVuD
— Anita Anand (@AnitaOakville) December 14, 2020
Initially, Trudeau had said there was a potential for delay in Canada receiving its doses, saying some of our allies would likely get the vaccines first if they were produced in those countries.
However, on Dec. 7, the prime minister announced that Canada had secured a deal with Pfizer to see up to 249,000 doses arrive in the country before the end of the year.
Health Canada approved the Pfizer-BioNTech candidate on Wednesday. Canada became the third country in the world, after the U.K. and Bahrain, to green light this vaccine.
More people willing to get vaccine
As Canadians prepare for the provinces distribution of the vaccine, it seems more people are willing to get the shot as soon as they can.
The latest Angus Reid Institute poll shows an eight per cent increase in the number of people who say they want to be immunized as soon as it’s available to them, at 48 per cent.
It was just a month ago that 40 per cent of Canadians polled said they were interested in getting vaccinated as soon as a shot was available to them.
According to the pollster, people 65 years and older are among those most eager to want to be immunized.
The number of people who say they won’t get a shot right away has remained essentially the same at one in seven.
“This rate varies from province to province, making the task for public health officials in some places potentially more challenging than others,” the Angus Reid Institute says.
-With files from The Canadian Press