The Ontario government began the first stage of its three-phase Covid-19 vaccine immunization program in December 2020 and plans on entering Phase Two by March 2021. The provincial government plans on vaccinating 8.5 million people by the end of Phase Two of the vaccine implementation plan, from March to August.
Based on safety testing and scientific reviews, two Covid-19 vaccines have been approved for use in Canada, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine. Both vaccines are manufactured in Belgium.
In a press conference on Januarry 13, Ontario Premier Doug Ford provided details of the plan.
“With Phase One of our plan well underway, we’re getting ready to expand our vaccine rollout and get more needles into arms as soon as the supply is available,” stated Premier Ford. “We now have a well-oiled machine, led by General Hillier, and we are making tremendous progress.”
Ford went on to discuss details regarding the second phase of the vaccination program, emphasizing the importance of celerity.
“We know this second phase will be an even larger logistical undertaking than the first,” continued Premier Ford. “That’s why we’re ramping up our capacity on the ground to ensure these vaccines are administered quickly, beginning with the people who need them most.”
Phase One of the program, which started in December, targeted healthcare workers and is expected to have 1.5 million people vaccinated by March.
Adding a wrench into the vaccination plans, Pfizer has deferred next week’s Covid-19 vaccine deliveries to Canada, causing frustration within provincial and federal levels of government.
The plant in Belgium, supplying all vaccines delivered outside the U.S., announced a temporary reduction in deliveries last week in order to upscale the plant. “This falls solely on Pfizer for letting us down,” said Ford.
Prime Minister Trudeau has also addressed the issue, making a call to Pfizer Global CEO Dr. Albert Bourla. “He assured me that we’ll receive four million doses by the end of March,” said Trudeau on Twitter. “We’ll keep working together to ensure Canadians can get a vaccine as soon as possible.
Spokeswoman for Pfizer, Keanna Ghazvini, discussed the delay in a statement to CTV News Toronto. “We recognized that it has made it more difficult to smoothly advance the scale of the immunization program in Ontario and throughout Canada,” read the statement. “We reiterated this is a short-term situation, and our focus is on meeting quarterly commitments.”