A third Covid-19 vaccine was approved by Health Canada on February 26. Officials believe that the new Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will help expedite the vaccination process.
In a press conference on the same day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that Canada had obtained two million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, and the first shipment of doses of the new vaccine is expected to arrive in the next few weeks. Moreover, much like the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be administered in the form of two separate doses.
“With Pfizer, Moderna, and now AstraZeneca, Canada will get to more than 6.5 million doses by the end of March and there will be tens of millions more doses to come between April and June,” stated Trudeau.
As the Canadian government prepares for the next phase of its vaccination program, pharmacies across the nation have stated that they are prepared to administer the Covid-19 vaccines to the public.
Jeff Leger, president of Shopper Drug Mart, stated that once they receive the go-ahead from the government, their vaccination sites would be operational in no less than 72 hours.
In a phone interview with CTV News, Leger explained that the immunization procedures would be quite similar to how they deliver the flu vaccination. The only potential obstacle they might face with the Covid-19 vaccination process would be the supply of vaccines.
“We can move very quickly, and we can move large volumes of people through our network,” stated Leger. “At the height of flu season, we did as many as half a million in one week, we think we could do much more than that—really the constraint was supply.”
While the exact details of who will receive vaccination and the location and time is currently unknown, the government is moving forward with its plans to prioritize vulnerable communities in the second phase of the vaccination program.
According to the report published by the Ontario Covid-19 Science Advisory Table on February 26, prioritizing disadvantaged neighborhoods and elderly communities can help begin the recovery process.
“Prioritizing and implementing vaccine distribution for Ontarians based on both age and neighbourhood of residence could ensure that those at the highest risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and hospitalization, ICU admission, or death from Covid-19 will be among the first to receive vaccines,” read the report.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford discussed the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in a separate press conference on February 26. While Ford argued that adding a third vaccine into the vaccination program might create some complications, he is hopeful that the rollout will be successful.
“This is absolutely great news for Ontario and the entire country,” stated Ford. “[The vaccination program] is the most important thing we’re going to do, and we need to get it right.”
With the approval of new vaccines, Canadians can expect a faster rollout of vaccine distribution programs. While the current timeline states that the vaccine will publicly be available to all age groups by August 2021, some officials believe that the date could be moved forward with the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.