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Trudeau, premiers to talk about pace of COVID-19 vaccinations in virtual meeting

Last Updated Jan 7, 2021 at 8:07 am PST

Francesca Paceri, a registered pharmacist technician carefully fills the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccine at a vaccine clinic during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Tuesday, December 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Speeding up COVID-19 vaccine distribution will be high on the agenda when the prime minister and premiers meet Thursday

Justin Trudeau expressed his frustration Tuesday over pace of COVID-19 vaccine rollout

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will convene a virtual First Ministers meeting on Thursday, with speeding up COVID-19 vaccinations high on the agenda.

Earlier this week, Trudeau voiced frustration over the pace of getting Canadians inoculated against the novel coronavirus.

“We’ve been able to ramp up over the past number of weeks in terms of vaccine delivery, but now is the time with the new year upon us to really accelerate, and that’s certainly what I’ll be talking with the premiers about,” he said earlier this week.

As of Tuesday, Canada had received nearly 425,000 doses of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines — but fewer than 150,000 Canadians had received shots by then.

In his first news conference of the year on Tuesday, Trudeau said he shared the frustrations of Canadians who think the vaccinations should be going faster.

Trudeau noted the early doses of vaccine arriving in December allowed for the process to be expedited, to an extent, despite setbacks.

“We are confident and very hopeful that over the coming weeks the challenges will be overcome,” he said, adding work continues to get the vaccine to the most vulnerable as soon as possible.

Some provinces acknowledge there have been bumps in the road administering the vaccines, particularly with trying to get the delicate Pfizer product to remote areas.

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But premiers, including Ontario’s Doug Ford, have said the real concern in the days and weeks ahead will be over Ottawa’s ability to get vaccines to the provinces quickly enough.

The prime minister has addressed concerns about vaccines going to waste, saying there are “extremely strong measures in place to ensure that the vaccines are properly supported, properly stored.”

Data compiled by the COVID-19 Canada Open Data Working Group has revealed Canada is administering vaccines at a slower pace than some of its peer countries.