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Registered nurse Debbie Frier injects Leah Sawatsky, an emergency room nurse, with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Regina General Hospital on Dec. 15.

Michael Bell/The Canadian Press

Less than a year after COVID-19 first reached its shores, Canada began vaccinating people against the virus that causes it. The federal government, provinces and First Nations have a difficult task ahead – a general vaccination that Ottawa hopes to begin by April and finish by the end of the year – but it’s already hitting a snag as a production slowdown at Pfizer-BioNTech’s Belgian plant brought Canada’s shipments to a near-standstill in late January and early February.

Here’s a primer on the rollout plans so far. You can also consult our main COVID-19 data page for the latest numbers of vaccine doses administered, nationwide and by province.


Which vaccines are Canadians getting?

Watch: How did Health Canada decide so quickly that Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine was safe to use? Science reporter Ivan Semeniuk explains how Canada benefited from researchers working in parallel and accelerating the approval process.

So far, Health Canada has approved two vaccines, one developed by Pfizer Inc. and German-based BioNTech, the other by Moderna. The vaccines were up to 95-per-cent effective in late-stage clinical trials, but only if patients are given two doses 21 days apart. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has to be stored between -60 and -80 C, so the provinces have been scrambling to get enough ultracold storage space. Moderna says its drug is stable at -20 C (a standard freezer temperature) for up to six months, and at two to eight degrees (a standard refrigerator temperature) for 30 days.

Story continues below advertisement

Ottawa has pre-purchased five other vaccine candidates, some of which are in a “rolling submission” process that allows Health Canada to evaluate them before all the data is gathered:

  • AstraZeneca/Oxford
  • Janssen/Johnson & Johnson
  • Medicago/GlaxoSmithKline
  • Novavax
  • Sanofi/GlaxoSmithKline


The federal rollout

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, left, and Major-General Dany Fortin, second from left, join other members of the vaccine distribution task force at the Public Health Agency of Canada headquarters for a drill on Dec. 11.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

The Trudeau government has bought tens of millions of doses of various vaccines and is co-ordinating with provinces, territories and First Nations to deliver them to Canadians free of charge. The vaccines go through a central agency, the National Operations Centre, where health officials and the military organize their distribution. The high-level guidelines about who should be vaccinated first come from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which says the initial doses should go to:

  • seniors’ home staff and residents
  • adults 70 or older, starting with the oldest, then going down in five-year increments
  • health care workers
  • adults in Indigenous communities

Ottawa’s initial timetable calls for 125,000 people to be vaccinated by the end of the year, with general inoculation starting in April and all Canadians vaccinated by December, 2021. That plan isn’t set in stone, as much will depend on global supply chains: There’ll be less vaccine to go around in January and February due to a Pfizer-BioNTech supply shortage, but once their Belgian plant is upgraded, the drug makers say it should make up the quota for March as planned.

Percentage

of Canadian

population

able to be vaccinated

Number

of Canadians

able to be

vaccinated

2020 Q4

125,000

<1%

2021 Q1

3 million

8%

Vaccinations

will start

for general

population

in April 2021

2021 Q2

15-19 million

40-50%

2021 Q3

100%

38 million

Note: Information is based on regulatory approval and

anticipated delivery schedules of vaccine supply.

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL,

SOURCE: PUBLIC HEALTH AGENCY of CANADA

2020 Q4

2021 Q1

2021 Q2

2021 Q3

Number

of Canadians

able to be

vaccinated

15-19 million

125,000

3 million

38 million

Percentage

of Canadian

population

able to be

vaccinated

100%

<1%

8%

40-50%

Vaccinations will start for general population in April 2021

Note: Information is based on regulatory approval and anticipated delivery schedules of vaccine supply.

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL,

SOURCE: PUBLIC HEALTH AGENCY of CANADA

2020 Q4

2021 Q1

2021 Q2

2021 Q3

Number

of Canadians

able to be

vaccinated

125,000

3 million

15-19 million

38 million

Percentage

of Canadian

population

able to be

vaccinated

<1%

8%

40-50%

100%

Vaccinations will start for general population in April 2021

Note: Information is based on regulatory approval and anticipated delivery schedules of vaccine supply.

JOHN SOPINSKI/THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: PUBLIC HEALTH AGENCY of CANADA


The provincial rollouts

Once the National Operations Centre has the doses, they go to distribution depots set up by the provinces and territories. Each of these, as well as the military and the federal agency in charge of prisons, will follow one of three models for distribution.

CANADIAN VACCINE DISTRIBUTION MODELS BY REGION OR ORGANIZATION

The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines may follow

a similar pattern but in the initial stages the

federal government will play a more active

role because of the logistical challenges

associated with vaccines that require cold

or ultracold infrastructure.

ALTA, SASK., ONT., QUE. AND N.B.

MANUFACTURER

CENTRAL DEPOT

PHARMACY WHOLESALE DISTRIBUTORS AND SELF

DISTRIBUTING CHAINS

REGIONAL DEPOT

ADMINISTRATION

SITES AND

FIRST NATIONS

PROVIDERS

PHARMACIES

B.C., N.S. and N.L.

MANUFACTURER

CENTRAL DEPOT

REGIONAL DEPOTS

ADMINISTRATION SITES AND

FIRST NATIONS PROVIDERS

Man., PEI., Yukon, NWT, Nunavut, Department of National Defence and Correctional Service Canada

MANUFACTURER

CENTRAL OR

REGIONAL DEPOTS

ADMINISTRATION SITES AND

FIRST NATIONS PROVIDERS

MURAT yükselir / the globe and mail,

source: Public Heath Agency of Canada

CANADIAN VACCINE DISTRIBUTION MODELS BY REGION OR ORGANIZATION

The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines may follow a

similar pattern but in the initial stages the federal

government will play a more active role because of

the logistical challenges associated with vaccines

that require cold or ultracold infrastructure.

ALTA, SASK., ONT., QUE. AND N.B.

MANUFACTURER

CENTRAL DEPOT

PHARMACY WHOLESALE DISTRIBUTORS AND SELF

DISTRIBUTING CHAINS

REGIONAL DEPOTS

ADMINISTRATION

SITES AND

FIRST NATIONS

PROVIDERS

PHARMACIES

B.C., N.S. and N.L.

MANUFACTURER

CENTRAL DEPOT

REGIONAL DEPOTS

ADMINISTRATION SITES AND

FIRST NATIONS PROVIDERS

Man., PEI., Yukon, NWT, Nunavut, Department of National Defence and Correctional Service Canada

MANUFACTURER

CENTRAL OR

REGIONAL DEPOTS

ADMINISTRATION SITES AND

FIRST NATIONS PROVIDERS

MURAT yükselir / the globe and mail,

source:Public Heath Agency of Canada

CANADIAN VACCINE DISTRIBUTION MODELS

BY REGION OR ORGANIZATION

The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines may follow a similar pattern but

in the initial stages the federal government will play a more active role

because of the logistical challenges associated with vaccines that require

cold or ultracold infrastructure.

Alta, Sask., Ont., Que. and N.B.

B.C., N.S. and N.L.

Man., PEI., Yukon, NWT, Nunavut, Department of National Defence and Correctional Service Canada

MANUFACTURER

CENTRAL DEPOT

CENTRAL DEPOT

CENTRAL OR

REGIONAL DEPOTS

PHARMACY WHOLESALE DISTRIBUTORS AND SELF

DISTRIBUTING CHAINS

REGIONAL DEPOTS

REGIONAL DEPOTS

ADMINISTRATION

SITES AND

FIRST NATIONS

PROVIDERS

ADMINISTRATION

SITES AND

FIRST NATIONS

PROVIDERS

ADMINISTRATION

SITES AND

FIRST NATIONS

PROVIDERS

PHARMACIES

MURAT yükselir / the globe and mail, source: Public Heath Agency of Canada

The first Newfoundlander injected: Public-health nurse Ellen Foley-Vick on Dec. 16.

Sarah Smellie/The Canadian Press

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Official page: Check Newfoundland and Labrador’s coronavirus information page here.
  • The plan so far: Due to the need for ultra-cold storage, Newfoundland and Labrador’s initial doses can only be delivered in St. John’s. Health-care workers began vaccinations on Dec. 16; the other initial priority groups include seniors in long-term care and Indigenous communities.

One of the first three islanders vaccinated: Debbie Lawless, a registered nurse at a Charlottetown nursing home, on Dec. 16.

Brian McInnis/The Canadian Press

Prince Edward Island

Nova Scotia

  • Official page: Check Nova Scotia’s coronavirus information page here.
  • The plan so far: Nova Scotia’s initial pilot project is focused on the Central Zone, the Halifax area, where doses began going to health care workers in COVID-19 and intensive-care on Dec. 16. The vaccines are being stored at a teaching complex at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre.

New Brunswick

  • Official page: Check New Brunswick’s coronavirus information page here.
  • The plan so far: The initial storage area for vaccines is at Miramichi Regional Hospital, where vaccinations began on Dec. 19. The first priority groups include COVID-19 rapid response teams, ambulance workers, seniors 85 and older and First Nations nurses.

The first Quebecker injected: Gisèle Lévesque, an 89-year-old resident of a Quebec City long-term care home, on Dec. 14.

PATRICK LACHANCE/MCE/AFP via Getty Images

Quebec

The first Ontarian injected: Anita Quidangen, a personal support worker at a Toronto long-term care home, on Dec. 14.

Carlos Osorio/Reuters

Ontario

The first Manitoban injected: Dr. Brian Penner of the internal medicine department at Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre, on Dec. 16.

John Woods/The Canadian Press

Manitoba

Saskatchewan

The first Albertan injected: Sahra Kaahiye, a respiratory therapist at Edmonton’s Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, on Dec. 15.

Jason Franson/The Canadian Press

Alberta

The first British Columbian injected: Nisha Yunus, a residential-care aide at Providence Health Care in Vancouver, on Dec. 15.

Jennifer Gauthier/Reuters

B.C.

Territories

  • Official pages: Check the coronavirus information pages for Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon.
  • The plan so far: All three territories have begun injecting doses of Moderna’s vaccine, which is easier to transport and store in the North than Pfizer-BioNTech’s. Elders, front-line health workers and people in remote communities at risk of outbreaks are the first to get it. The territorial governments aim to vaccinate 75 per cent or more of their populations by March of 2021.

Compiled by Globe staff

With reports from The Canadian Press, Ivan Semeniuk and Kelly Grant


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