More front-line health care workers received the COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday morning as the mass immunization effort to end the coronavirus pandemic in Canada continued.
In Ottawa, a personal support worker named Jo-Anne Miner was the first of a planned 100 people to get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the nation’s capital on Tuesday.
She told reporters that she “feels fine” and hopes everyone who can gets immunized “to protect our most vulnerable.”
In Toronto on Monday, five personal support workers from a long-term care home were the first in the province to get vaccines from an initial Ontario batch of 6,000 doses. Camera crews captured the landmark moment as Anita Quidangen became the first in the group to receive the potentially life-saving shot at the University Health Network.
Last week, Canada became the third country in the world to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use, and by Sunday the first shipments arrived in Quebec. Since then, 14 sites across the country have started to receive shipments and immunize the first Canadians, prioritizing front-line workers.
By the end of the week, the number of people vaccinated at the University Health Network should reach 1,500, according to Dr. Bradly Wouters, the executive vice-president of science and research at the hospital network. His team has received 3,000 doses, but half of them have been earmarked for each person’s second dose, which is required 21 days after receiving the first. It’s just one of the various logistical challenges facing the Canadian immunization effort, not the least of which is the storage needs of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The inoculant must be transported and stored at -70 C, a requirement that led to the government ordering shipments of ultra-cold freezers and dry ice to manage the product.
Other vaccines that are likely to arrive in Canada in the coming months have fewer barriers to their transportation. The Moderna candidate, which Wouters expects to be approved by Health Canada this month, requires a storage temperature of just -20 C. That will allow the Moderna vaccine to be transported to a broader range of locations, including rural communities that might not have the freezing capacity of urban health networks. That means some high-risk Canadians aren’t likely to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech shot for now, at least, added Wouters.
As vaccinations continue this week in Canada, an end to the COVID-19 pandemic is still a long way off, experts warn. But this remains a landmark week marking the hoped-for beginning of the end to the global health crisis.
“That’s what we’re all really excited about is how this will end community transmission and make it safe for everyone to go back to work and live a more normal life,” said Wouters.
When Canadians can expect to see COVID-19 infections drop is a difficult question, said Aylward, but other disease outbreaks clearly show it won’t be a quick process.
Photo credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
News source: CTV News