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Pfizer vaccine delays will have small impact on B.C.'s rollout, health minister says

Last Updated Jan 15, 2021 at 4:22 pm PDT

Summary

B.C.'s health minister says Pfizer delays will likely mean some British Columbians will have to wait for COVID vaccines

Close to 76,000 people in B.C. have received their first COVID-19 vaccine from either Pfizer or Moderna

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The expected delays in COVID-19 vaccine delivery from Pfizer could impact how soon some people can be completely immunized in B.C., according to the province’s health minister.

Adrian Dix said Friday that planning continues, taking into account these expected delays from Pfizer, but it remains to be seen what exactly this will mean for B.C.’s rollout.

“That information you’ll start to get on Monday, and we’ll start looking at that and seeing what effect it will have. But obviously, when you get less vaccine, it has an effect on the number of people that you can deliver first doses to, in particular,” Dix said.

As of Friday, the health minister said 75,914 people had been given their first shot of Pfizer or Moderna. At this time, it’s not clear if any of them will have to wait longer than 35 days for their second one.

“They send us vaccine and we use it. It’s going to continue to be our policy to have two doses. So we continue to have Pfizer and we continue to have Moderna. We are going to look at the effect of this on doses, but those decisions haven’t been made yet, on how we organize first and second doses,” he explained. “It just has an effect when you have less vaccine.”

Dix said health officials have been told to expect “a significant amount of vaccine” in the period from March on.

Federal Procurement Minister Anita Anand confirmed Friday that there would be temporary reductions in Pfizer’s ability to deliver vaccines to Canada.

“This is a temporary delay and we remain on track to have enough approved vaccines for everyone who wishes to be vaccinated by the end of September,” she said.

A statement from the pharmaceutical company explained improvements were being made to facilities to increase capacity.

“We must make modifications to the process and facility,” Pfizer’s statement reads, adding “Although this will temporarily impact shipments in late January and February, it will provide a significant increase in doses available for patients in late February and March.

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While Pfizer said it will still be able to deliver four-million doses of its drug by the end of March, Anand added that is no longer guaranteed.

“This is unfortunate. However, such delays and issues are to be expected when global supply chains are stretched well beyond their limits,” Anand said, stressing, “It’s not a stoppage.”

The reduced deliveries from Pfizer are expected to last about four weeks, according to Maj-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is leading Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

He confirmed shipments to this country will be cut in half during that time.

Canada has received about 380,000 doses of the vaccine so far, and was supposed to get another 400,000 this month. The country was expecting almost two million doses in February.

The federal government has secured 80 million vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna.