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Head of Canada's COVID vaccine rollout stands by provinces amid distribution criticisms

Last Updated Apr 8, 2021 at 11:10 am PDT

FILE - A shipment of COVID-19 vaccines arrives in Canada (Courtesy Twitter/JustinTrudeau)

Head of country's vaccine efforts says Canada expected to receive 44-million doses of COVID vaccines by end of June

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin is backing up provinces amid questions around speed at which vaccines are being administered

Provinces aren't dragging their feet in vaccine rollout, says Fortin

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – As premiers face questions about the speed at which COVID-19 vaccines are being administered, the head of Canada’s vaccine distribution efforts is backing the provinces up.

So far, the federal government has delivered 10.5-million vaccine doses to the provinces and territories, but only about seven million have been administered to date.

The gap has prompted a lot of questions and criticisms for some provincial governments, as we see COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise across Canada.

However, Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who’s in charge of the logistics of vaccine deliveries in Canada, says the provinces aren’t dragging their feet.

“Provinces and territories do their very best to administer as rapidly and as effectively as possible vaccines to Canadians throughout the country, full stop,” he said on Thursday.

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He notes delivery systems can be complex and that it could take a few days to roll out vaccine doses after they’ve been received.

“Delivery time to provinces and territories’ designated vaccine distribution site may vary depending on the location. The farther from the central hub and the more isolated, or rural a region is, the longer the delivery time could be,” Fortin explained.

This comes as health officials say the country is expected to receive millions more vaccines in the coming weeks.

Fortin says we are expecting further shipments next week of well over a million doses from Pfizer and Moderna, with more on the way.

“We continue to expect that a steady flow of one-million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech coming in country on a weekly basis through April and May 2021. Quantities will increase in June, therefore, in the next three months, we expect to receive over 17-million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech alone,” he said Thursday.

In total, Canada is expecting 44-million doses from all approved vaccine drugmakers by the end of June, enough to give every Canadian who wants one at least their first dose.

Two per cent of Canadians are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is telling provinces to try to get the first shot into as many arms as possible before they focus on second doses.

The federal government has repeatedly said that it expects every Canadian who wants a vaccine should get one by September. Fortin says there’s a good chance that timeline can be sped up, however, he would not give any assurances.

“The flow of vaccines, as I indicated, is positive or remains the same. The demand for vaccines from Canadians remains high, then I can’t see why we wouldn’t be able to accelerate that. But I’d be speculating about a specific date,” he said.