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A shot in the arm: pharmacies say they can speed up Canada's vaccination efforts – CBC.ca

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Canada’s pharmacists say they can vaccinate up to three million people a week against COVID-19, but governments across the country have largely kept these health care providers in the dark about what role they might play once more shots are delivered.

With vaccination of the general population set to begin in just two months’ time, pharmacists and the country’s largest chain, Shoppers Drug Mart, have so far had only preliminary discussions with some provincial leaders about how the nation’s largest immunization campaign will unfold.

“We’re anticipating pharmacists will play a role somewhere down the line. I guess what we’re not clear on yet is exactly when,” Joelle Walker, the vice-president of public affairs at the Canadian Pharmacists Association, told CBC News.

The country’s 11,000-plus pharmacies should be equipped to administer the vaccine, given their years of experience with the flu shot campaign, but facts about their possible role in the COVID-19 vaccination program have been scant.

Walker said the annual flu shot campaign, while large, is a much smaller endeavour than the COVID-19 vaccination campaign — and it still takes months to plan.

“It’s definitely concerning because there is a lot of work to be put into these things. Pharmacists need to know roughly when they might expect the vaccines, the kind of quantities and who they’ll be targeting,” she said. “Bringing pharmacists in at the front end of planning would be helpful.

“The message to the government really is, ‘If you don’t have those conversations early on, it does open up the possibility that things aren’t going to go as smoothly as Canadians expect.’ Now is the time to have those more concrete conversations.”

Walker said getting vaccinated at a pharmacy is convenient — 90 per cent of Ontario residents, for example, live within a five-kilometre drive of one. And pharmacies are often the only health care options in rural and remote communities where access to primary care is limited, she added.

Pharmacies are also accustomed to managing patient notifications and refills, which makes them well-equipped to track the two-dose regime for the Pfizer and Moderna products, she said.

“Because the health systems are so tapped out with nurses and physicians on the front line in acute care — we don’t have an infinite bandwidth of providers — pharmacies are absolutely the natural place to do this,” Walker said.

Immunization campaign off to a slow start

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.

Tens of thousands of the estimated 605,000 doses that the federal government has so far shipped to the provinces and territories 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.

The United Kingdom and the U.S. have vaccinated more people per capita than Canada. They’ve also released detailed plans explaining how pharmacies will fit into the vaccination effort.

The U.K., for example, started identifying pharmacies in November as suitable vaccination centres.

A customer wearing a mask walks out of a Walgreen’s pharmacy store and past a sign advising that COVID-19 vaccines are not yet available on Dec. 2, 2020, in Seattle, Washington. (Elaine Thompson/AP Photo)

More than 11,500 such sites in the U.K. have been chosen so far to help administer shots over the course of 2021. They’re high-volume community druggists that have the capacity to administer 1,000 vaccines each week while maintaining stringent cold storage requirements. The National Health Service has said more pharmacies could be added to the list.

This week, 200 pharmacies started administering the shot to U.K. residents and eligible patients are able to book their vaccination appointments online.

Some U.K. pharmacists could also be put to work in community spaces, such as schools and churches, that have been converted into makeshift clinics.

Last fall, the U.S. federal government tapped Walgreen’s — one of the country’s largest drug store chains, with more than 9,000 stores nationwide — to inoculate long-term care residents in 35,000 different homes. Its primary competitor, CVS, was also recruited to lead vaccination efforts in retirement residences.

The American inoculation campaign began in earnest last week at community pharmacies and at the in-store pharmacies of some grocery chains. With advance notice, the chains were able to recruit thousands more pharmacists and technicians to help. Walgreen’s alone has 45,000 people now qualified to administer shots.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference at a Publix Super Market in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla, Wednesday, January 13, 2021. DeSantis announced the expansion of the use of Publix pharmacies as COVID-19 vaccination sites. (Bob Self/The Florida Times-Union via AP Photo)

Tens of thousands of U.S. drug store locations, and big box stores like Costco and Walmart, will soon be vaccinating health care and front line workers and — after a change in federal policy on Monday — Americans over the age of 65.

All told, 60 per cent of all pharmacies in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have signed a deal with the U.S. government to receive doses.

Canada’s pharmacies could do 3 million shots a week

In Canada, the federal government has said it expects immunization for the general population to begin sometime in April. Provincial health authorities will decide how to distribute the vaccine to their residents and the actual rollout could work differently in various parts of the country.

Jeff Leger is the president of Shoppers Drug Mart, Canada’s dominant pharmacy chain. He said contact between his company and provincial and territorial leaders has improved over the past week as provinces began to 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 planning for a wider rollout.

“I’m confident we’ll get some firm plans over the next couple of weeks. I would say they’re very interested in having our help,” Leger told CBC News.

Mike, a pharmacy manager at CVS Health, gets the COVID-19 vaccine ready at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, Mass. (Leon Nguyen/The Republican via AP Photo)

This week, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the general population in his province would have access to shots by summer. Pharmacies are expected to play a crucial role in that effort.

Ontario detailed its immunization plans for the second phase of the rollout on Wednesday, indicating that pharmacies and clinics might be brought into the vaccination program as its focus shifts from long-term care homes to other populations.

“Some of the details around who will do the work within those [next] phases is now being fleshed out. We’ve been getting very positive feedback from the provinces who say that pharmacies will play a role in that — and I think they like the capacity,” Leger said.

The sheer number of vaccinations that pharmacies can administer is impressive.

During the last flu shot campaign, some of the company’s busiest stores were administering as many as 600 shots a day, Leger said. Shoppers Drug Mart and pharmacies owned by the Loblaw grocery chain vaccinated 500,000 people a week against the flu, he said — a figure that could have been even higher had there been more doses available.

Leger said that if all of Canada’s pharmacies are mobilized, several million shots could be delivered each week.

“I think it’s probably in the range of 2.5 to 3 million if all pharmacies are participating. The limiting factor is vaccine availability,” he said. 

“As soon as it becomes available, we’re ready to help vaccinate. All Canadians would love for it to come as quickly as possible.”

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Canada records over 6,800 new COVID-19 cases as officials announce vaccine delay – Global News

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Canada added over 6,800 new cases of the novel coronavirus Friday as federal officials revealed that vaccine shipments to the country would be delayed for four weeks over production issues.

In a press conference Friday, Procurement Minister Anita Anand said that only half of Pfizer-BioNTech’s promised COVID-19 vaccine doses would arrive in the next month.

Read more:
‘Temporary delay’ chops Canada’s deliveries of Pfizer vaccine in half for four weeks

The delay, which would impact production for a “short period” according to her, would be made up by the end of March and was due to the company scaling up its manufacturing capacity for European countries.

“This expansion work means that Pfizer is temporarily reducing deliveries to all countries receiving vaccine manufactured at its European facility — and that includes Canada,” said Anand, who reassured that the setback would not impact Canada’s long-term vaccination plan.

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How will I know it’s my turn to get the vaccine? Your COVID-19 questions answered


How will I know it’s my turn to get the vaccine? Your COVID-19 questions answered

Several provincial leaders including Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, B.C.’s Health Minister Adrian Dix and Ontario Premier Doug Ford have since raised concern over the delay, as a second shot of the Pfizer vaccine is expected to be administered within 21 days of the first for it to achieve maximum efficacy.

News of the delay also comes amid new federal COVID-19 modelling that showed the country was on track to surpass 10,000 new cases of the virus a day by February if Canadians kept maintaining the “current number of people we contact each day.”

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Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam, who presented the modelling at a media conference, said that the rise in new infections was largely due to Canadians gathering during the holidays.

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According to her, current measures would have to be “further intensified” in order to curb the virus’ spread.

According to the modelling, virus cases could potentially surge past 30,000 a day if Canadians increased their current contacts each day by February.

“If we ease measures too soon the epidemic will resurge even more strongly,” said Tam.


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Coronavirus: Canada’s deliveries of Pfizer vaccine hit by ‘temporary delay,’ Anand says


Coronavirus: Canada’s deliveries of Pfizer vaccine hit by ‘temporary delay,’ Anand says

As of Friday evening, cases of COVID-19 in Canada floated at just under the 700,000 mark, though a total of 601,000 people have since recovered. Deaths linked to COVID-19 now stand at 17,729 after another 192 fatalities were reported.

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To date, more than 20,238,921 tests have been administered and at least 765,100 doses of the vaccine have been distributed across Canada.

Ontario reported the highest number of infections Friday with another 2,998 cases as well as 100 deaths, though 46 of those deaths were reported to have occurred earlier in the pandemic.

Read more:
Canada on track for 10K COVID-19 cases a day, measures must be ‘further intensified’: feds

Quebec added another 1,918 cases Friday as well as another 62 deaths. More than 8,900 deaths have now been recorded in the province, which is the hardest hit in Canada.

Health officials in B.C. announced another 500 lab-confirmed cases Friday as well, pushing the province’s official caseload to 59,583. Another 534 cases are considered “epi-linked,” which are cases that displayed symptoms and were in close contacts of confirmed cases but were never tested.

Nine of those epi-linked cases were included Friday’s count.

Another nine people were reported to have died from the virus there, with the province’s current death toll standing at 1,047.


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Coronavirus: Hajdu says Health Canada would need to approve change in Pfizer manufacturing site

Alberta added another 785 cases Friday, pushing its total caseload to 115,370. The province’s death toll from the virus also stands at 1,402 after 21 more deaths were announced.

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Saskatchewan reported another 386 cases and four more deaths, while Manitoba recorded 191 infections and five more fatalities.

Several provinces in Atlantic Canada also reported new cases of the virus Friday.

New Brunswick added another 25 cases, Nova Scotia two more and Newfoundland and Labrador another infection. P.E.I. did not report any new cases Friday.

In Canada’s North, only the Northwest Territories reported one case of the virus.


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Coronavirus: Trudeau comments on strengthening COVID-19 travel measures

The country’s increase in cases also comes amid another grim milestone as over two million people worldwide were reported to have succumbed to the virus since the start of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University.

To date, more than 93,751,000 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19, with the U.S., India and Brazil continuing to lead in both infections and deaths.

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With files from The Canadian Press and Global News’ Rachel Gilmore and Katie Dangerfield.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Canada's coming month of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine shipments will be reduced by half – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Over the next month Canada will be experiencing a “temporary” delay in Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipments due to the pharmaceutical giant’s expansion plans at its European manufacturing facility, with the shortage resulting in an average of 50 per cent of coming doses delayed each week.

While shipments will continue in the coming weeks, the amount of doses in them will be lessened, sometimes by hundreds of thousands of doses.

“Pfizer has confirmed that Canada’s deliveries will be impacted for the next four weeks. We will see an average reduction over this timeframe of 50 per cent of expected deliveries. There will minimal impact next week… The most profound impact will be in the week of January 25,” said Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is leading Canada’s logistical rollout. 

This setback to Canada’s short-term COVID-19 vaccine delivery schedule means the number of doses going to each province and territory will have to be readjusted. Fortin said that the allocations will begin to scale back up in the first two weeks of February, before returning to the size of doses originally anticipated. 

Canada was planning on receiving between 124,800 and 366,600 Pfizer doses every week between now and the end of February, as part of the plan to have six million doses total from Pfizer and Moderna by the end of March when Phase 1 ends.

The delivery for the week of Jan. 25, which Fortin said is likely to see the largest reduction, was set to be 208,650 doses. If that’s reduced by half, Canada will receive 104,325 Pfizer doses that week, which is fewer than the forecasted allocation received this week.

“In my conversation this morning with Pfizer, it was very clear that we’re are still correct in our planning assumption to receive approximately four million doses of Pfizer by March 31,” Fortin said,

Fortin said that knew the company would at some point need to scale-up their manufacturing to ramp-up its mass production, but the news of the looming construction project was brought to the federal government’s attention in the last 24 hours, according to Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos.  

Procurement Minister Anita Anand announced the delay on Friday, saying all nations who are receiving vaccines from this Pfizer facility will be receiving fewer doses.

“It is a temporary reduction, it’s not a stoppage… We will make up those doses,” Anand said.

Addressing the setback during his Rideau Cottage address on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that shipments have largely been ahead of schedule so far, but that “with an undertaking this historic, it’s only to be expected that there will be a few bumps along the way.”

Norway, which is also receiving Pfizer doses from its Europe facilities has announced that “for some time ahead” their deliveries will be reduced. In the coming week their shipment will be reduced by approximately 18 per cent.

“The reduction is due to a reorganisation at Pfizer in connection with an upgrade of production capacity… It is not yet clear how long it will take before Pfizer is up to maximum production capacity again,” said the statement published by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. 

The government sought to ensure that all countries who will be impacted, will be “equitably treated” in terms of delivery reductions, according to Anand. Fortin confirmed later Friday that this will be the case, with all seeing deliveries reduced by 50 per cent on average.

Anand said that while Canada is expecting to be able to catch up, the delay is “unfortunate.”

“However such delays and issues are to be expected when global supply chains are stretched well beyond their limits,” Anand said.

By end of the day Friday, the federal government will have distributed a total of 929,000 doses of the two approved COVID-19 vaccines, around 84 per cent of which have been administered.

WON’T IMPACT PHASE 2  

The plan is to receive “more than” one million doses of approved vaccines every week, on average, starting in April with Phase 2. 

Trudeau said that while this issue is out of Canada’s hands, the country “must still get ready for the ramp-up,” in Phase 2. 

Fortin said the delays “will not change our second quarter goals,” though he could not guarantee future delays. He said he understands and feels the “disappointment,” but “we need to move forward.”

He committed to keep all key stakeholders, and Canadians appraised of any future delivery schedule changes. 

The ongoing initial vaccination stage has seen Canada pushing to properly allocate and prioritize key groups like residents and staff in long-term care homes as well as front-line health-care workers. 

In this first stage of the vaccine campaign, Canada has seen both doses sitting in freezers as well as provinces saying they are running short, while those on the front line have sought to sort out who should and shouldn’t be receiving shots at this time.

“It was with precisely these types of issues in mind that Canada pursued the aggressive procurement strategy that we did,” Anand said. “This approach of ensuring diversity and volume months ago is what now gives us flexibility and margins to remain on track in difficult times.” 

Asked whether Canada will be looking to revisit their decision to not procure additional Moderna doses to make up the shortage over the next few weeks, Fortin said the amount scheduled to arrive from that company will stay the same.

As previously reported, the additional 16 million Moderna doses that the federal government left on the table in talks with that company would not be arriving until late 2021. 

As for whether Canada looked into being able to receive Pfizer shipments from the  United States facility, Fortin said that the federal government looked into it, but for now Canada’s line of doses will continue to come exclusively from the European facility.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu added that because as part of the regulatory approval granted to Pfizer, Health Canada approves the manufacturing sites as well as the vaccine itself.

“So, should we procure from even the same company a different site, then there would need to be review of the manufacturing data,” she said. 

Several federal officials sought to reassure Canadians Friday that the country remains on track to vaccinate everyone who wants to be, by the end of September.   

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Canada's coming month of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine shipments will be reduced by half – CTV News

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 on


OTTAWA —
Over the next month Canada will be experiencing a “temporary” delay in Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipments due to the pharmaceutical giant’s expansion plans at its European manufacturing facility, with the shortage resulting in an average of 50 per cent of coming doses delayed each week.

While shipments will continue in the coming weeks, the amount of doses in them will be lessened, sometimes by hundreds of thousands of doses.

“Pfizer has confirmed that Canada’s deliveries will be impacted for the next four weeks. We will see an average reduction over this timeframe of 50 per cent of expected deliveries. There will minimal impact next week… The most profound impact will be in the week of January 25,” said Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is leading Canada’s logistical rollout. 

This setback to Canada’s short-term COVID-19 vaccine delivery schedule means the number of doses going to each province and territory will have to be readjusted. Fortin said that the allocations will begin to scale back up in the first two weeks of February, before returning to the size of doses originally anticipated. 

Canada was planning on receiving between 124,800 and 366,600 Pfizer doses every week between now and the end of February, as part of the plan to have six million doses total from Pfizer and Moderna by the end of March when Phase 1 ends.

The delivery for the week of Jan. 25, which Fortin said is likely to see the largest reduction, was set to be 208,650 doses. If that’s reduced by half, Canada will receive 104,325 Pfizer doses that week, which is fewer than the forecasted allocation received this week.

“In my conversation this morning with Pfizer, it was very clear that we’re are still correct in our planning assumption to receive approximately four million doses of Pfizer by March 31,” Fortin said,

Fortin said that knew the company would at some point need to scale-up their manufacturing to ramp-up its mass production, but the news of the looming construction project was brought to the federal government’s attention in the last 24 hours, according to Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos.  

Procurement Minister Anita Anand announced the delay on Friday, saying all nations who are receiving vaccines from this Pfizer facility will be receiving fewer doses.

“It is a temporary reduction, it’s not a stoppage… We will make up those doses,” Anand said.

Addressing the setback during his Rideau Cottage address on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that shipments have largely been ahead of schedule so far, but that “with an undertaking this historic, it’s only to be expected that there will be a few bumps along the way.”

Norway, which is also receiving Pfizer doses from its Europe facilities has announced that “for some time ahead” their deliveries will be reduced. In the coming week their shipment will be reduced by approximately 18 per cent.

“The reduction is due to a reorganisation at Pfizer in connection with an upgrade of production capacity… It is not yet clear how long it will take before Pfizer is up to maximum production capacity again,” said the statement published by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. 

The government sought to ensure that all countries who will be impacted, will be “equitably treated” in terms of delivery reductions, according to Anand. Fortin confirmed later Friday that this will be the case, with all seeing deliveries reduced by 50 per cent on average.

Anand said that while Canada is expecting to be able to catch up, the delay is “unfortunate.”

“However such delays and issues are to be expected when global supply chains are stretched well beyond their limits,” Anand said.

By end of the day Friday, the federal government will have distributed a total of 929,000 doses of the two approved COVID-19 vaccines, around 84 per cent of which have been administered.

WON’T IMPACT PHASE 2  

The plan is to receive “more than” one million doses of approved vaccines every week, on average, starting in April with Phase 2. 

Trudeau said that while this issue is out of Canada’s hands, the country “must still get ready for the ramp-up,” in Phase 2. 

Fortin said the delays “will not change our second quarter goals,” though he could not guarantee future delays. He said he understands and feels the “disappointment,” but “we need to move forward.”

He committed to keep all key stakeholders, and Canadians appraised of any future delivery schedule changes. 

The ongoing initial vaccination stage has seen Canada pushing to properly allocate and prioritize key groups like residents and staff in long-term care homes as well as front-line health-care workers. 

In this first stage of the vaccine campaign, Canada has seen both doses sitting in freezers as well as provinces saying they are running short, while those on the front line have sought to sort out who should and shouldn’t be receiving shots at this time.

“It was with precisely these types of issues in mind that Canada pursued the aggressive procurement strategy that we did,” Anand said. “This approach of ensuring diversity and volume months ago is what now gives us flexibility and margins to remain on track in difficult times.” 

Asked whether Canada will be looking to revisit their decision to not procure additional Moderna doses to make up the shortage over the next few weeks, Fortin said the amount scheduled to arrive from that company will stay the same.

As previously reported, the additional 16 million Moderna doses that the federal government left on the table in talks with that company would not be arriving until late 2021. 

As for whether Canada looked into being able to receive Pfizer shipments from the  United States facility, Fortin said that the federal government looked into it, but for now Canada’s line of doses will continue to come exclusively from the European facility.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu added that because as part of the regulatory approval granted to Pfizer, Health Canada approves the manufacturing sites as well as the vaccine itself.

“So, should we procure from even the same company a different site, then there would need to be review of the manufacturing data,” she said. 

Several federal officials sought to reassure Canadians Friday that the country remains on track to vaccinate everyone who wants to be, by the end of September.   

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