Tuesday , April 20 2021

Only two-thirds of COVID-19 vaccines available in Canada



Heather Witzel-Garnhum, Nursing Clinic, will manufacture the syringe with Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 at Regina General Hospital on December 15, 2020.

Michael Bell / The Canadian Press

Only two-thirds of the available vaccine doses in Canada have been given as provincial and regional governments seek to shift their COVID-19 vaccination program to a faster exchange after months of slow federal delivery.

Most of the doses not yet given by the provinces were delivered only after Saturday. But even before these consignments were added to the supply of local cold stores, vaccination campaigns faced challenges, including thousands of unfulfilled appointments, low vaccination rates in the groups most at risk for COVID-19, and a lack of security of supply.

Urgent resolution of these issues is crucial as much of the country is struggling with a third wave driven by concerns.

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“Currently, the pandemic is destroying spring and shortening the summer for millions of Canadians,” said David Naylor, vice president of the federal COVID-19 immunity task force.

The increase “cannot be curbed without strict public health measures and a significant acceleration of the introduction of the current vaccine”.

Of the provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador have the slowest spread of vaccines, and on Tuesday it had delivered only 54 percent of the available shots, with Manitoba and Nova Scotia tied for second with 58 percent, according to The Globe and Mail. . Ontario had given 63 percent of its available doses, while Quebec had given 67 percent. Saskatchewan leads the way with 78 percent.

Alberta have given 66 percent of their shots and BC 69 percent. On the East Coast, PEI and New Brunswick have supplied 64 percent.

On Monday, Health Minister Patty Hajdu highlighted the differences between the available shots and the numbers given, but on Tuesday he and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were careful not to criticize the premieres.

“We all need to speed up the vaccination process,” Mr Trudeau said in French.

Ontario Prime Minister Doug Ford said vaccine shipments are coming as “Dribs and Drab” events, and on Tuesday said more than 1.3 million appointments have been set aside for 1.4 million available doses. The province has said it can deliver 150,000 shots a day, but on Monday it fired half, 76,199.

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The Quebec government has also criticized the pace of vaccinations. The province peaked with 56,000 doses in one day two weeks ago, but peaked at 22,600 on Sunday – despite the arrival of more than 700,000 shots in recent days.

Over the Easter weekend, the United States fired more shots in three days than 6.6 million Canadians have delivered in total since December.

Hajdu was unable to say on Tuesday how quickly the federal government expects the provinces to give the vaccines after receiving them. The Federal Public Health Agency was unable to provide information on how quickly the shots were delivered, and provinces such as Ontario and BC

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu will attend a briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on November 20, 2020.

Justin Tang / Canadian Press

This information is important to ensure an effective vaccination campaign, Dr. Naylor said.

“You definitely need to have an idea of ​​your inventory and how fast it’s moving so you can determine how the sites are performing relative to their demand,” he said.

In New Brunswick, it will take two to seven days to manage the shots as they arrive, government spokesman Shawn Berry said. Nova Scotia is working on a two-week period from confirming deliveries to shot management, provincial chief physician Robert Strang said Tuesday.

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The Quebec Health Department said management of the shots would begin four days after their arrival, but did not set an upper limit on its duration.

Manitoba and Nova Scotia added their voices to criticism from Ontario and BC that uncertainty over federal supplies is slowing local penetration. Dr Strang said caution is being exercised in his province “to protect Nova Scotians and our vaccine programs from continued volatile vaccine supply.”

He pointed out that the delivery dates for Moderna’s shots changed twice in recent weeks.

Unlike Pfizer shipments, which arrive every week in predictable quantities, the delivery of AstraZeneca doses is also unpredictable, and the vaccine is restricted to certain age groups, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said. “I hope on Thursday or Friday that we get 70,000 or 75,000 servings a day,” he said. “Pfizer’s daily 40,000 is easy. The end is hard to predict.”

The province wants to give each Quebecker the first dose by the end of June, which will require an average of nearly 44,000 daily to reach the remaining 3.7 million people. “More than 44 000 people, I am a happy man. I am not below that, ”Mr Dubé said.

But while delivery is secured, thousands of appointments are not filled. On the four-day Easter weekend in Toronto, 2095 appointments were not raised. In Montreal, it was 5,000, and in Hamilton (Ont.) There were 662 outstanding appointments on Monday alone.

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As an offer to fill existing appointments and increase vaccinations as supply increases, Ontario will reduce the eligibility age for 60 provinces throughout Wednesday and 50 or even younger in zip code areas where the risk is higher.

New data released Tuesday by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences show that areas with the highest COVID-19 burden are not communities with the highest vaccination levels, suggesting that more changes are needed to the vaccination campaign.

Nurses awaiting administration of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines will be sitting at the vaccination center as part of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Brampton, Ont., March 4, 2021.

CARLOS OSORIO / Reuters

In the areas devastated by the viruses in North Brampton and Northwest Toronto, vaccination rates are almost half the county average, despite the highest rate of COVID-19. In contrast, some of the highest vaccination rates in the province are in Toronto’s richest enclaves and Kingston, which is the center of the region with relatively few infections and only one COVID-19 death.

Jeff Kwong, a senior researcher at the institute, said high vaccine levels in some affluent areas could reflect the large number of doctors and other health care providers receiving vaccines. But he said residents of these places are also more likely to be technically proficient and able to navigate the sign-up process, while residents of poorer areas face barriers, including language, and a lack of Internet and traffic.

Dr. Kwong said the data clearly shows that some parts of the province need more shots and more help.

Infectious disease physician Zain Chagla and an assistant professor at McMaster University said they supported vaccinating people in high-risk areas where many are essential workers, but urged the government to go further.

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“If we’re going to use vaccines to dramatically shift the spread in our communities, we need to go to high-risk neighborhoods, high-risk jobs, and vaccinate at a much younger age,” he said. “It probably won’t change our route for months if we don’t get there.”

Kelly Grant’s report

Register Coronavirus Update Newsletter read the main coronavirus news, features and commentators of the day written by Globe editors and journalists.


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