Nearly three million Canadians are about to become eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Last week, trial data for a pediatric version of the Pfizer vaccine were presented to regulators in the United States and Canada. Very soon, perhaps this month, the vaccine is expected to be approved for children between the ages of 5 and 11.
Is Canada ready? The answer appears to be: not at all. Not now. again.
It’s pretty much the story of Canada’s response to the pandemic. The job gets done, eventually, but more slowly and less efficiently than should have been the case. It is understandable not to be prepared for the unexpected; Not being prepared for what Donald Rumsfeld might have called a not-known has become a Canadian COVID-19 trait.
From the start of the pandemic, it was clear that the path had been cleared through to the eventual development of vaccines. Once developed, Canada knew it would have to procure tens of millions of shots as quickly as possible, planning to bring in millions of weapons as quickly as possible. The first was Ottawa’s job number 1. The latter was at the top of the provinces’ to-do list.
Yet for months after vaccines were approved in late 2020, the Feds were unable to achieve more than a relative handful of shots. Countries such as the US and Israel became at the forefront; Canada did not. And while Ottawa did its job and began to flood the country with millions of shots last spring, it turned out that many provinces still didn’t have weapons ready to go, such as online booking systems.
The electronic vaccination record continues to drag its feet. It’s been known for the better part of a year that Canadians will need them, but provinces like Ontario are still working on their own, as are the Fed.
The motto of the Royal Canadian Navy is “Ready, ready”. The motto of many Canadian governments in the pandemic may be: “Already?”
Canada’s vaccination campaign this summer slowed and nearly stalled, as fewer and fewer people raised their arms. But it got a big boost last month, thanks to the imposition of vaccine mandates and proof-of-vaccination requirements for entry into non-essential businesses across much of the country – and the terrifying spike in COVID-19 cases in western Canada and new Brunswick.
As a result, over 88 percent Among eligible Canadians — those 12 years of age and older — have received at least one shot. Since September 21, approximately 600,000 people have taken their first job, and more than 600,000 have taken their second job. That still leaves about 3.9 million eligible Canadians with zero shots, and another 2.2 million who still need their second shot.
This also leaves out the nearly five million children under the age of 12 who have not yet been vaccinated because no vaccine is yet approved for them. But once pediatric doses of the Pfizer vaccine are given the green light, about three million of them will become shot-worthy. This gives Canada a golden opportunity to quickly and dramatically shrink our pool of unvaccinated people. This will increase the safety of all children and adults, while reducing the likelihood of further pandemic closures of schools and businesses.
So what is Canada’s plan?
good question Local and provincial health officials have generally released no vaccine rollout plans for ages 5 to 11, although the day they will have to put them into operation is fast approaching. For example, a spokesperson for Alberta Health Services and the British Columbia Ministry of Health did not provide any details.
And in any case, the precondition of a successful childhood vaccine strategy is not just regulatory approval of vaccines, but their massive supply.
When will Canada have that? unclear.
It’s also unclear whether it will be possible to use Pfizer’s existing stock of vaccines — the childhood shot is a low dose — or whether Ottawa will need to get its hands on a new supply, including one designed for small-dose administration. There will be vials. As of Tuesday evening, the Federal Public Service and Procurement Ministry had not responded to our questions about the timeline or quantity of its purchases.
“A day late and a dollar short,” describes much of Canada’s response to COVID-19. Please, not again.
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