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Feds say up to 64 per cent of Canadians could receive COVID vaccine by end of June

Last Updated Feb 18, 2021 at 8:22 am PST

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Vaccine delivery to Canada expected to ramp in months ahead, federal officials say

Canada has already seen disruptions to its deliveries and these kinds of delays are always possible going forward

Federal officials say more than a million Canadians have received a COVID-19 vaccine shot so far

OTTAWA – New federal forecasts show in the months ahead we’re going to see an even bigger ramp up of COVID-19 vaccinations than first predicted.

Canada has now received 1.5-million doses. The latest numbers show that in the second quarter of this year — between April and June — Canada is due to received around 23-million doses from Pfizer and Moderna alone, which is five million more than first projected.

That figure could jump significantly if the AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, or Novavax drugs are approved by Health Canada. The latest forecasts show that Canada could inoculate between 14.5- to 24.5 million people in the second quarter, equating to between 38 and 64 per cent of the population.

However, the figures are just estimates and do come with risks. Canada has already seen disruptions to its deliveries and these kinds of delays are always possible going forward.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin says work is underway with the provinces to prepare for this scale up.

“To ensure that they have capacity and capability to keep pace with increasing shipment size of authorized COVID-19 vaccines,” said Fortin.

He says Canada’s planning will now focus on these updated figures.

Fortin notes 1.5 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have been delivered to the provinces and territories, however there have been delivery delays due to severe weather on the east coast.

To date, 1.33 million shots have been administered.

Canada has been criticized for its vaccine rollout pace compared to several other ally countries.

While Canada was among the first countries to approve vaccines for use, it has trailed some nations in its distribution per capita.

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The country’s top doctor, Dr. Theresa Tam, would not give an update on when Canadians can expect to receive word on the approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which health officials have previously said was close.

“That’s part of the regulatory area that belongs to Health Canada and we must let the regulator do its job in terms of reviewing the data, because they’re there to ensure that we have all the checks and balances in terms of effectiveness and safety,” Tam told Breakfast Television Toronto on Thursday.

“I’ve heard that it’s ongoing, basically, and they’re working as fast as they can. And the data is evolving so I think that’s part of the reason as well. But I really support people letting the regulator do the best job possible,” added Tam.

Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo says the National Advisory Committee on Immunization has updated its priority populations for the next stage of vaccinations.

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NACI suggests provinces give priority to people in congregate living spaces and adults living in Indigenous communities.

“These individuals are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. Adults in Indigenous communities, where infection can have disproportionate consequences,” Njoo said.

The committee has also updated its guidance to include adults from racialized communities disproportionally affected by COVID-19, as well as all essential workers, in the second stage.

With concerns growing over a potential third wave related to variants quickly spreading through Canada, Tam says now is not the time for Canadians to let their guard down.

“And that’s why I’ve been messaging pretty widely in terms of keeping interactions to a minimum,” she said. “So I’ve been saying people should, as much as possible, have the fewest interactions, with the fewest people, for the shortest time, at the greatest distance.”

She warns a third wave is “a distinct possibility.”