Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine logistics, said today that manufacturers are expected to deliver up to one million doses a week starting in April.
In the spring, Fortin said, the country will shift from phase one of the vaccine rollout — immunizing particularly vulnerable people, such as long-term care home residents, some Indigenous adults and health care providers — to a wider rollout as deliveries become larger and more frequent.
The Canadian immunization campaign has gotten off to a slow start. A month into the inoculation efforts, barely one per cent of the population has received at least one shot of the Pfizer or Moderna products. Only 710,000 doses have been delivered to the provinces and territories.
The federal government is expecting up to six million doses — enough for three million people to be fully vaccinated using the Pfizer and Moderna two-dose products — by the end of March. But Fortin conceded Thursday the government is still negotiating a delivery schedule.
“We have a scarcity of vaccines in the first quarter,” Fortin said. April will mark the start of the what he’s calling the “ramp-up phase.”
The prospect of a million doses a week will be welcome news to provincial leaders who have been demanding more vaccine supply as COVID-19 cases spike.
While the vaccination campaign got off to a slow start, some provinces, notably Ontario and Quebec, have been fine-tuning their processes to administer doses faster.
“We have been sharing data with provinces and territories who, of course, understandably want more vaccines as they ramp up their vaccination programs. The challenge is we have limited quantities,” Fortin said. “The rub is right now … there’s perhaps a disappointment with the relatively small numbers that are being distributed,” Fortin said.
Other provinces are laggards. Tens of thousands of the doses the federal government has so far shipped are sitting in freezers. Manitoba and Nova Scotia have been particularly slow out of the gate, using less than half of the shots they have received.
According to CBC’s vaccine tracker, 419,209 doses have been administered so far.