Most Canadians will have COVID vaccination by next fall, Trudeau says, putting focus on finish line

OTTAWA – As Canadians look to find out when they will start receiving COVID-19 vaccinations, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau instead asked them to focus on the finish line, pledging most Canadians will be vaccinated by next fall.

As several vaccine candidates begin to show promising results, the House of Commons and Canadians have been focused this week on when injections will begin going into Canadian arms, bringing an end to the pandemic.

Trudeau said he understands why people are focused on the start date, but said the last vaccine administered to Canadians is more important than the first.

“People are really eager to find out when we are going to get to that starting line, when are we going to start giving people vaccines,” he said. “We’re working as hard as we can to make that as quickly as possible, but at the same time, what really matters is when we get to cross the finish line.”

Trudeau said it looks like most Canadians could be vaccinated by next fall.

“If all goes according to plan, we should be able to have the majority of Canadians vaccinated by next September,” he said.

Trudeau warned this week Canadians will not be the first people in the world to receive vaccines, because Canada doesn’t have domestic manufacturing capacity, particularly the technology used for the most promising vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna who are the  frontrunners.

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He said in the meantime Canadians need to keep wearing masks, limiting their contacts and washing their hands.

“There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but we need to do what we can, right now, to make it through these coming months,” he said.

Trudeau also announced the appointment of Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin to oversee the rollout of vaccines across the country, along with another 27 Canadian Armed Forces personnel to help. Fortin commanded a NATO mission in Iraq in 2018.

After a meeting Thursday evening between Trudeau and premiers across the country, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said his government needs much more information about the vaccine rollout.

“Without proper planning, without proper information this could be a logistical nightmare,” he said.

“We need certainty from the federal government. We need to know which type of vaccine we will be getting, because each vaccine will come with unique requirements and potential challenges,” he said.

The federal government has said only so far that vaccines will arrive in the first quarter of next year, possibly as early as January.

Ford said they need a week-by-week delivery schedule, so they have the staff and the resources on hand to vaccinate people.

“Without a clear understanding of how many vaccines we will get, it is impossible to plan.”

Trudeau said more details will come soon and he is confident in their plan for the vaccination campaign.

“Canada is well prepared for large scale rollout of vaccines. This will be the biggest immunization in the history of the country. We must reach everyone who wants a vaccine, no matter where they live.”

Procurement Minister Anita Anand said the government did consider making vaccines here at home, but without the proper facilities they were convinced buying from international suppliers would be quicker.

“While we explored the possibility of domestic manufacturing with a number of vaccine developers, the quickest path to supplying vaccines to Canada would be from their international suppliers,” she said.

She said the government has invested in domestic manufacturing, but those facilities will take time to get up and running.

“We are not precluding the domestic option, but we are ensuring that Canadians have access to vaccines. As soon as they are approved by Health Canada.suppliers.”

She rejected suggestions her government was slow to move on vaccines.

“We were the fourth country of all countries in the world, to get an agreement with Pfizer. We were one of the earliest countries to secure an agreement with Moderna.”

Anand said they are looking to get the vaccines delivered as soon as possible, but they need to wait for the vaccines to have regulatory approval. Health Canada officials have said that approval could come as soon as mid-December.

“We are constantly in touch with our suppliers, me included, almost daily to ensure that when Health Canada approval is forthcoming we can then roll out vaccines to Canadians.”

• Email: [email protected] | Twitter: ryantumilty

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