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'We have a weapon': London's first COVID-19 vaccination raises hopes and cheers – CBC.ca

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After months of playing defence and hunkering down against the deadly coronavirus, London can now finally begin to fight back. 

On Wednesday, the city’s first citizen received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination, launching what will be a long, concerted program to inoculate London and its surrounding region against a virus that has killed more than 14,000 Canadians, including 93 locally.

Those who work in long-term care will be the first to get the shot before the program expands to those who work in frontline health care. Also near the front of the line will be people in home care with chronic conditions that make them vulnerable to COVID-19.

A 1-800 number has been set up to allow long-term care workers who’ve been approved to get the vaccine to make an appointment.

And though it will likely be a long time — perhaps months — before members of the general public can receive the vaccine, the fact that vaccinations have started was welcome news at the Western Fair District’s Agriplex building, where all COVID-19 vaccinations will happen at a clinic set up in just seven days. 

The first person to get vaccinated Wednesday was Karen Dann, a registered nurse and administrator at Country Terrace, a care home in Komoka dealing with an active COVID-19 outbreak. 

“This is going to be a game-changer for us,” said Dann. “We have been in a 10- or 11-month battle now with COVID that we are not winning. We’re not winning in the community and we’re certainly not winning in the long-term care homes.

Dann said COVID-19 has taken a toll on Country Terrace residents and staff and she hopes the vaccine’s arrival means better days ahead.

“We’ve got our armour, we never had a weapon,” she said. “Today we have a weapon. The COVID vaccine is the weapon that we needed to keep our residents safe and our staff safe.” 

Cheers went up moments after Dann received the shot from the clinic’s health care workers who will administer thousands of vaccinations in the months to come. 

The vaccine’s arrival in London is a welcome Christmas present and comes as Ontario deals with skyrocketing COVID-19 infection numbers, increasing deaths and mounting pressure on hospital intensive care wards. 

On Wednesday, London reported 88 new cases, a daily record health officials say is likely to be broken in the coming days as case counts continue to rise. 

London’s vaccination clinic will be operated by the Middlesex-London Health Unit in partnership with London Health Sciences (LHSC). 

Neil Johnson, LHSC’s COO, led reporters on a tour of the vaccination clinic Wednesday. 

‘Everyone is pumped’

Neil Johnson is the Chief Operating Officer at the London Health Sciences Centre. He gave media representatives a tour of the vaccine clinic on Dec. 23, 2020. (Andrew Lupton/ CBC News)

He wouldn’t say exactly how many vaccine doses London has received, estimating it was “a few thousand.” 

He said the clinic will start operating four, eight-hour clinics, two clinics this week, resuming again Monday through to Thursday, Dec. 31. If the vaccine supply holds up and enough staff are available, they will move to 12-hours of operation in the New Year. 

“This is one of the most exciting days for people who work in health care,” said Johnson. “Everyone is pumped. This is the only thing that is going to turn the corner for our community and for our country.” 

Wednesday’s news that Health Canada has approved the Moderna vaccine has the potential to help ease the supply problem in London and elsewhere. 

Once delivered to the Agriplex, the Pfizer vaccine can’t be moved because it must be stored at -70 C, which requires special freezers. The Moderna vaccine can be stored in a standard freezer, which makes its distribution less limited, a help in getting the vaccine to more remote and rural areas.

Can’t let up on safety measures

For all the hope the vaccine brings, local health officials have cautioned that its arrival doesn’t mean it’s time to abandon the now familiar measures to guard against infection, such as limiting personal contact to people in your household, wearing a mask, and practising physical distancing. 

Mayor Ed Holder tweeted that though this is a crucial milestone in London’s fight against COVID-19, it’s only the first step in what will be a long process. 

“The vaccine has arrived, it’s being administered, but this will take time,” he said.  “Let’s stay focused, determined and committed. We’re almost there.”

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Pfizer tells Canada it will not receive any Covid-19 vaccine doses next week – CNN

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Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought to reassure Canadians that vaccine deliveries would pick up again in a few weeks and that the overall goal, to have every willing Canadian vaccinated by September, would remain on track.
But it was Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford who bluntly voiced the frustration of many provincial leaders as Pfizer continues to cut its vaccine delivery schedule to Canada.
“We got to be on these guys like a blanket, I’d be outside that guy’s house. Every time he moved, I’d be saying, ‘Where’s our vaccines?’ Other people are getting them, the European Union is getting them, why not Canada? That’s my question to Pfizer, we need your support,” said Ford during a Tuesday news conference.
Canada’s supply of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine comes from the European allotment and not from nearby manufacturing facilities in the US, since the Trump administration made it clear vaccines would not be exported.
“There’s a plant, a Pfizer plant, six hours in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with the Americans,” Ford said. “My American friends help us out, we need help once again as we did with the PPE. You have a new President, no more excuses we need your support, and we look forward to your support and that’s a direct message to President (Joe) Biden, ‘help out your neighbor.'”
Ford made a direct plea to President-elect Joe Biden for a million vaccines for Canada.
The incoming Biden administration is unlikely to release vaccine doses for export in the short term as Biden transition officials have stated they are uncertain of the current supply of vaccines available in the US.
Canadian government officials made it clear Tuesday that the shortfall in deliveries from Pfizer would result in a “major reduction” in vaccinations in the coming weeks.
“There will be a considerable impact across all provinces,” said Major Gen. Dany Fortin, the Canadian commander in charge of the vaccine rollout, adding, “the overall impact over the next month is in the range of a 50% decrease of expected allocation.”
The pandemic curve in Canada is beginning to show signs of bending downward after weeks of lockdowns. But hospitalizations remain high, and officials say the overall death toll during this second wave could eventually be more dire than the first.
“We’re all contributing to reducing the burden on the health system, supporting our health care workforce in the difficult task of planning and implementing mass vaccine rollout and giving vaccines a longer runway to begin to work as access expands to reach all Canadians,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer during a Tuesday news conference.
Tam added on average, about 140 virus-related deaths are reported in Canada each day.

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COVID-19: No Moderna or Pfizer vaccine deliveries for B.C. in last week of January – Vancouver Sun

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Article content continued

The provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said that 40 per cent of B.C.’s Moderna doses had been used so far. Moderna vaccine is stored at a higher temperature than Pfizer’s so is easier to deliver outside Metro Vancouver.

So far, 80 per cent of the roughly 92,000 doses delivered in B.C. have been from Pfizer and the rest from Moderna.

There were 465 cases of COVID-19 reported on Monday and 12 deaths.

There are 4,331 active cases, with 329 being treated in hospital, including 70 in intensive care.

There were no new outbreaks in health care facilities or in the community. An outbreak at The Emerald at Elim Village in Surrey is over with no deaths, leaving 58 active outbreaks in health care facilities.

B.C.’s provincial state of emergency was extended until Feb. 2.

There have been 693 tickets with fines issued, that include 548 for people refusing to comply with a directive, 119 for unlawful gatherings and 26 for violation of provincial health officer liquor rules.

Authorities have issued 85 tickets for people who breached the mandatory two-week quarantine for anyone entering B.C. from outside Canada.

dcarrigg@postmedia.com

twitter.com/davidcarrigg


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Pfizer to halt COVID vaccine deliveries to Canada next week, making worse already slow rollout – National Post

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Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel Garner said the Liberals had to come clean about the full details of the rollout, so Canadians could see how it stood up to scrutiny.

“When they say that every Canadian will have a dose of vaccine by September, what assumptions have they made on approval, timelines, and availability of other vaccine candidates and if those don’t come to pass what’s plan B?”

She said she wanted the government to succeed, so Canadians could get back to a normal life, but that clearly had not happened.

“I really don’t take any pleasure in saying that they haven’t delivered.”

According to the Bloomberg news service, as of Monday, Canada was 12th in the world on vaccines delivered on a per capita basis. Behind countries like Israel, the U.K. and the United States and the United Arab Emirates, as well as several small European countries.

Israel is the world leader so far having administered first doses to more than 25 per cent of its population primarily using the Pfizer vaccine. Several reports indicated the country had paid more for the vaccines than other countries. it also had agreed to share anonymized patient data from its health system with Pfizer.

The United Kingdom has approved the AstraZeneca vaccine and made it a major part of its rollout. The vaccine, which is not yet approved in either Canada or the United States, does not need to be kept frozen and is easier to distribute. Some countries, like the United Arab Emirates, that are ahead of Canada are using a vaccine from Sinopharm, a Chinese state company.

Trudeau was asked Tuesday why Canada hadn’t ordered more doses for the first quarter of the year. He said there were only so many doses available from the two approved candidates Pfizer and Moderna, before the vaccines were approved and manufacturing could ramp up.

“The challenge is, as of December 1, 2020, there were none of these vaccines being produced anywhere in the world for general use. They were all in testing and trials in the scientific community,” he said.

• Email: rtumilty@postmedia.com | Twitter:

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