OTTAWA: Canada will begin a roll-out of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on Monday, just days after becoming one of the first countries to approve the treatment.
The first shipment of the vaccine arrived in the country on Sunday night, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hailing the “good news.”
“But our fight against COVID-19 is not over. Now more than ever, let’s keep up our vigilance,” he said in a tweet.
Trudeau has previously said the country will receive 249,000 initial doses of the vaccine this month, the first 30,000 doses of which are expected to have arrived by Monday.
Local media have reported it will be rolled out in Quebec – the country’s hardest-hit province – the same day, where it will be distributed to elderly care homes.
Distribution will begin in neighboring Ontario on Tuesday, the province said on its official website, as part of a pilot scheme to be given to more than 2,500 frontline workers in hospitals and care homes.
It is unclear when precisely other provinces are set to receive the vaccine, though officials have said the roll-out is expected to take place this week.
Speaking to national broadcaster CBC on Sunday, Dany Fortin – who is in charge of the vaccine distribution – said “the delivery schedule is unfolding exactly as planned.”
“The provinces will be in a position to administer the vaccines in the coming days,” he said.
Canada pre-ordered 20 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine when it was still in development, with an option for 56 million additional doses.
The vaccine – which proved to be 95 percent effective in late-stage clinical trials – is administered in two doses, 21 days apart.
Canada had as of Sunday counted 460,743 cases of the virus, with 13,431 deaths.