CORNWALL – Eleven months after the COVID-19 pandemic reached Canada, the first shipments of the new Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine arrived December 14th.
The first doses in Ontario are being distributed to front-line health care workers in Toronto and Ottawa, with more doses expected in the coming weeks. But don’t expect any wide-scale roll out of vaccinations in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region before April.
“My understanding is there are going to be a lot of doses,” said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit.
Roumeliotis said he didn’t expect there would be any vaccine in the EOHU region before April.
“I don’t see it happening before April at least,” he told journalists during his December 11th media availability.
Unlike the province’s roll out of the flu vaccine, where pharmacies did not order enough vaccine to meet demand, COVID-19 vaccines will have more supply.
“We are going to have very many doses and be available for everybody,” Roumeliotis said. “I think we’re going to be flooded with vaccines.”
According to the Canadian government, over 400 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been ordered from different suppliers, enough to vaccinate Canada’s 38 million population several times over.
Several vaccine candidates are in the approval process at Health Canada, with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine expected to be approved within weeks.
One of the challenges with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is cold storage. That vaccine requires storage at minus-70 Celsius: the EOHU says it has a proper cold storage freezer to handle the vaccine.
Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine does not require special handling and freezing like the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
The provincial government’s COVID-19 task force has said that front-line workers, long-term care residents, and those with underlying medical conditions will receive the vaccine before the rest of the province can receive it.
This story was originally written for and appeared in The Morrisburg Leader.