The Canadian Press
The federal government is laying plans for the procurement and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. The approval of a vaccine by Pfizer and BioNTech is said to be imminent. The second vaccine in line for approval in Canada is from Moderna. The Canadian military will have a role to play in vaccine distribution and a dress rehearsal is planned for next week to make sure doses can get to every corner of Canada. Various provinces have started spelling out their plans as well. Here’s a look at what they’ve said so far:
Newfoundland and Labrador
Premier Andrew Furey announced the members of a COVID-19 vaccine logistics team for the province at a news conference on Friday.
The team will include Health Minister John Haggie, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, Cmdr. David Botting of the Canadian Armed Forces, Indigenous Affairs Minister Lisa Dempster and Municipalities Minister Derek Bennett.
Furey said the team will be ready to administer the vaccine to the province’s most vulnerable people as soon as it becomes available, but did not specify who may fall into that category.
The province’s chief medical officer of health says he will release a detailed plan for the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine once Ottawa shares more information.
Dr. Robert Strang says there is no certainty yet about the availability of a vaccine, but expressed hopes an initial supply will trickle into Nova Scotia early in the new year.
Strang says the plan will include tight control of the supply and clear rules dictating who can be first in line for immunization.
He says he’s waiting for more federal guidance on issues ranging from priority groups to transportation and storage logistics.
The province says it will be ready to start rolling out its vaccine plan as of Jan. 1.
Premier Francois Legault says that public health officials have already settled on the list of priority vaccine recipients, but details have not been released.
Legault says the province is also working to put the necessary infrastructure in place to support a vaccine rollout. That includes obtaining fridges capable of maintaining the extremely low temperatures needed for the Pfizer vaccine.
Quebec has also tasked assistant deputy health minister Jerome Gagnon and former provincial public health director Dr. Richard Masse to oversee the province’s vaccination effort.
Premier Doug Ford is among the leaders calling on Ottawa to provide more clarity as officials work to develop a provincewide vaccination strategy.
Health Minister Christine Elliott has said Ontario will receive 1.6 million doses of the new vaccine from Pfizer and 800,000 doses from Moderna in early 2021, although federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said such details were still in the works.
Ford has named former general Rick Hillier, who served as chief of defence staff, to oversee the province’s vaccine rollout.
Nine others were named to the provincial vaccine task force on Friday, including medical experts, the province’s chief coroner, former Toronto police chief Mark Saunders, Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald and bioethicist Dr. Maxwell Smith.
The province had initially said it would develop its vaccine plan by year’s end, but earlier this week Ford said the province would be ready even if the vaccines arrive sooner.
He has urged Ottawa to provide detailed information on potential vaccine delivery.
“We need a clear line of sight into the timelines of the shipments,” Ford said.
Government officials say they’ve been assembling the necessary people and equipment to set up a large-scale “super site” to deliver the vaccine as soon as it is available.
Premier Brian Pallister says the province has also purchased the necessary supplies to administer two doses of the vaccine to every person in the province.
The first freezer able to store the Pfizer vaccine at low temperatures has been delivered and installed, with another four on the way.
As the vaccine supply from the federal government expands over the coming months, the province says it will become more widely available in a larger number of sites, similar to a conventional vaccination campaign, such as the annual flu shot.
Premier Jason Kenney says Alberta expects to start getting COVID-19 vaccines in the first week of January.
High-risk patients and health workers will get them first.
Kenney says his government has struck an interdepartmental team to roll out the vaccines from 30 different locations in the province.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, has said the province is expected to receive 680,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine early in the new year, a figure not yet confirmed by the federal government.
The provincial health officer says seniors in British Columbia’s long-term care homes and hospitals will be the first to get immunized starting in the first week of January with two vaccines.
Dr. Bonnie Henry says vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna will be the first to be rolled out after approval by Health Canada.
Henry says B.C. health officials are working with their federal counterparts on ways to facilitate the delivery of vaccines as they anticipate various challenges that could come up in the immunization process.
More details will be provided about the province’s vaccine plan next week.
Premier Sandy Silver says the territory has been in discussions with various levels of government on a vaccine rollout plan.
He says the goal will be to provide vaccines to elderly people and health-care providers.
Silver says rural and remote communities should also get priority status in northern regions, a fact he says he’s emphasized with federal authorities.
The premier says he has joined the other provincial and territorial leaders in pushing for a national strategy to distribute the vaccine.
Silver says the Pfizer vaccine could cause logistical problems for remote communities because of its cold-storage requirements, but those issues may not apply to other vaccines under development.