As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks.
The military commander handling logistics for Canada’s vaccine distribution program says there will be enough vaccine delivered to give a first dose before Canada Day to every adult who wants one.
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin says that’s if provinces follow the advice to delay second doses up to four months.
He also cautions that it is dependent on having no production delays again.
Health Canada anticipates a total of 36.5 million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and the AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India by June 30.
There are approximately 31 million Canadians over 16, and no vaccines are approved for anyone younger than 16.
Here’s a list of the inoculation plans throughout Canada:
Newfoundland and Labrador
Health officials say vaccinations will begin this week for first responders. They say pre-registration for COVID-19 vaccines has opened for people aged 70 or older and for home-support workers.
Newfoundland and Labrador announced March 3 it was extending the interval between the first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to four months.
Public health officials said the change will help them vaccinate 40,000 more people with a single dose by the end of March. Liberal Leader and incumbent Premier Andrew Furey said the decision is a game changer for the province’s vaccination prospects.
Health officials say people aged 60 to 62 became eligible to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine starting March 18.
Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021.
The province is planning to use mobile van clinics to vaccinate about 900 people who work at or use homeless shelters in the Halifax area.
Public health is partnering with pharmacists and doctors to provide the vaccines at 25 locations.
Nova Scotia, meanwhile, has added front-line police officers to the list of people eligible for vaccination during the second phase of the province’s rollout plan, joining groups such as long-haul truck drivers and hospital workers over the age of 60.
Prince Edward Island
Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some.
The province is offering the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine people ages 18 to 29 who work in gas stations and convenience or grocery stores.
The announcement on March 16 came after the province opened AstraZeneca vaccination appointments a week earlier to young people in the food and beverage sector.
Health officials announced March 18 that people 80 and older, health-care professionals who have close contact with patients, and people with complex medical conditions are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
People 80 and over, a caregiver or a family member acting on their behalf can make an appointment for a vaccine at a pharmacy.
The province says all residents of long-term care homes have been offered at least one dose of vaccine. On Friday, March 19, all residents of First Nations communities who are aged 16 or older will have access to their first dose of vaccine.
Quebec started vaccinating older seniors on March 1 after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites, including the Olympic Stadium, opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city.
COVID-19 vaccination appointments opened March 10 for residents 70 and older across Quebec. The minimum age is currently set at 65 in Abitibi-Temiscamingue and Cote-Nord. However, Montreal is dropping the age limit to 60.
Premier Francois Legault says his government’s goal is for all adult Quebecers who want a COVID-19 vaccine to get at least one dose by the province’s Fete nationale on June 24. He also said the province’s vaccination campaign will allow all Quebecers aged 65 and over to be vaccinated with one dose by mid-April.
Quebec, meanwhile, is looking to enlist between 20 and 50 companies across the province to operate vaccination hubs to help accelerate its immunization campaign for people under 60.
Health Minister Christian Dube says he’s hoping the companies can administer a total of one million vaccines.
To be part of the program, companies must commit to vaccinating between 15,000 and 25,000 people over a 12-week period between May and August.
Quebec will provide the vaccines and necessary equipment and run the online appointment portal. The program will begin when residents under the age of 60 become eligible to be vaccinated, with a goal of fully vaccinating 500,000 Quebecers.
Ontario launched its COVID-19 vaccine booking portal and call centre on March 15.
People aged 80 and older were the first eligible to use the system. Starting March 22, people age 75 and older will be able to make appointments through the booking system.
Ontario focused its initial vaccine effort on those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, some health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings.
It has said the rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. Some public health units are ahead of the province’s schedule for vaccinations.
A pilot project at more than 300 pharmacies in Toronto, Kingston and Windsor Oxford-AstraZeneca started offering shots to those aged 60 to 64 in March.
That program is being expanded to offer shots to people aged 60 and older starting on March 22. Some primary care physicians are also offering Oxford-AstraZeneca shots to eligible patients in that age range.
The pharmacy pilot will expand to 700 locations across the province in the coming weeks, then to approximately 1,500 sites as supply becomes available.
Other currently eligible people include front line health-care workers, Indigenous adults and chronic home health-care recipients, and some health units have started vaccinating people experiencing homelessness.
The interval between vaccine doses has been extended to four months in Ontario.
Manitoba is starting to vaccinate residents aged 65 and older and First Nations people aged 45 and older. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months.
Specific groups of people, such as health-care workers and those who work in congregate living facilities, are also able to get vaccinated.
The province is also giving the AstraZeneca vaccine to certain people with high-risk health conditions. Those eligible are First Nations people aged 30-64 and others aged 50-64.
Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province’s vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. There are supersites in cities where people can get vaccines and pop-up clinics have begun in rural and northern Manitoba communities for eligible residents.
Manitoba has already indicated it would opt for a four-month interval between doses.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority is booking vaccinations for residents aged 70 and older. The minimum age drops to 50 for people living in the Far North.
A vaccine drive-thru clinic has also opened in Regina for residents who are 60 to 64 and some health-care workers.
The province plans to expand its mass vaccination campaign in April. Saskatchewan will immunize the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable.
Premier Scott Moe says people will get their second shot of vaccine four months after the first to increase the number of people who can receive an initial dose.
Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce.
Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said the province expects to offer all Albertans aged 18 and over a first dose of vaccine by the end of June.
On March 15, residents aged 65 to 74, and First Nations, Inuit and Metis aged 50-plus, were allowed to begin booking. The province had originally not expected to begin this stage of vaccination until April.
In April, the Alberta government aims to start offering the vaccine to people with some chronic health conditions born between 1957 and 2005. That includes people with certain lung, kidney, liver and heart diseases, people treated for cancer in the past year, those with severe mental illness and substance use disorders, and pregnant women.
After that, vaccines will be available to more health-care workers and people with jobs in certain congregate living settings, such as jails and homeless shelters. Meat plant workers will also qualify in this phase.
Alberta has also said it will follow other provinces by extending the time between the first dose and the second to four months.
More than 300,000 front-line workers will now be eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations in the coming weeks.
The government says grocery workers, police, firefighters, teachers, postal employees and other front-line staff are considered priority groups and will be eligible to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
The highest-risk work categories were identified by a task force last November and include sites where poultry, fruit and fish are processed, as well as large industrial camps.
The province’s age-based vaccination plan is ahead of schedule. Anyone 80 and up can arrange their vaccination by the end of the week.
The province also opened vaccination clinics across B.C. on March 15 for Indigenous elders and seniors over 90 who had appointments.
Clinics also began in Prince Rupert and Port Edward, where all adults are being immunized regardless of age, because of high infection rates in the northwestern region of the province.
The government has also extended the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July.
Nunavut’s priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people aged 60 years and up, staff and inmates at correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff.
After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose.
The Northwest Territories says it expects to finish its vaccine rollout by the end of April. It also expects to receive enough doses of the Moderna vaccine by the end of March to inoculate 75 per cent of the adult population.
Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March.
Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 20, 2021.
Transplant programs reviewing policy on recipients being vaccinated against COVID-19 – Squamish Chief
Transplant centres in Western Canada have stopped short of requiring organ recipients to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but they say conversations about such a policy are ongoing.
Some centres in other parts of the country, including Ontario, are requiring proof of vaccination before a patient is approved for the life-saving surgery.
BC Transplant, located in Vancouver, said COVID-19 vaccination is not required to be eligible for a transplant, but programs in the province are actively reviewing it.
“The transplant programs are strongly encouraging all pre-transplant patients to be vaccinated against COVID-19, as they do with many other vaccine-preventable infections,” the agency said in a statement.
Similarly, Alberta Health Services told The Canadian Press it has long been a requirement that patients preparing for transplant have all vaccines to help maximize their chances of success post-transplant. It notes, however, it’s only a practice guideline at this point.
Saskatchewan has also not made any changes.
“Saskatchewan’s organ transplant teams are strongly supportive of all recipients and donors having COVID vaccinations, and the issue of requiring these vaccinations in recipients is actively being discussed,” Lisa Thomson, a spokeswoman for the Saskatchewan Health Authority, said in a statement.
The Ajmera Transplant Centre at Toronto’s University Health Network recently announced its decision to implement a policy that requires patients who may benefit from receiving a transplant be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before they are listed for solid organ transplant.
However, there may be exemptions for medical reasons or in cases of urgent need of a transplant.
“We all recognize that (COVID-19) is a massive, massive risk factor. The prudent and ethical thing to do to protect patients and to protect each other, and show fidelity and respect to those organ donors, is to require this (policy) to be a price of pass and go,” UHN president and chief executive officer Kevin Smith said in an interview.
The decision to enact the policy is based on a few factors, according to the organization.
It said transplant patients are severely immunocompromised because of lifelong treatment to prevent rejection of a new organ. If someone who is immunocompromised gets COVID-19, they are at a very high risk of being hospitalized or placed on ventilation.
Unvaccinated recipients could also pose a risk to other patients post-surgery. Transplant recipients have high health needs after their transplants and require frequent visits to a hospital. These individuals may pose a greater risk of spreading illness, should they get infected, to other immunocompromised patients in an inpatient or outpatient setting.
“Thinking about an outbreak in an environment like that would be just a massacre,” Smith said.
Infectious disease experts noted this type of policy isn’t new.
“There’s just requirements pre-transplant in order to be eligible for listing. Some of it is complying with some of the medical measures to see if patients would be eligible,” said Dr. Dima Kabbani, an assistant professor in the division of infectious diseases at the University of Alberta.
Kabbani added pre-transplant vaccine recommendations are already in place for hepatitis B, pneumococcal disease and influenza.
Manitoba’s Shared Health said there is no requirement for Manitobans awaiting a transplant to be vaccinated for COVID-19, but noted patients may be required to show proof of vaccinationif there are requirements elsewhere.Kidney transplants are performed in the province while all other organ transplants take place in other provinces.
Jessica Bailey, 35, is living with stage five kidney disease and awaiting a transplant in Saskatoon.
The government has postponed surgeries as the province deals with a devastating fourth wave of COVID-19.
Bailey said she is not in favour of requiring recipients to be vaccinated against COVID-19. She said she is double vaccinated but believes recipients should still have the choice on whether they want the vaccine.
She does encourage patients who may be on the fence to look at the bigger picture.
“If you can get a transplant just by getting the vaccine, go and do it. Pick and choose your battles,” Bailey said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Oct. 15, 2021.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press
Health Unit Gearing Up For Flu Shot Program – ckdr.net
With the colder months not far away, the Northwestern Health Unit is preparing for their annual flu shot program.
“The Northwestern Health Unit will begin to offer the flu vaccine in November and we will inform the public when they can start booking appointments,” says Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kit Young Hoon. “As always the influenza vaccine will also be available at many pharmacies and from other health care providers.”
The Public Health Agency of Canada only reported 79 lab confirmed cases of influenza in 2020 compared to 54-thousand cases just the year before.
The drop is largely attributed to strong public health measures and lockdowns due to COVID-19, but officials say there could be more documented cases this year.
“Influenza vaccination were relatively high last year so we’re working off a similar assumption for this year that they will be high,” says Dr. Young Hoon. “I believe we will have enough vaccine to provide to whoever wants to be vaccinated and we’re prepping to have a relatively high rate this year.”
U.S. to lift curbs from Nov. 8 for vaccinated foreign travelers – White House
The White House on Friday said it will lift COVID-19 travel restrictions for fully vaccinated foreign nationals effective Nov. 8, ending historic restrictions that barred much of the world from the United States.
Restrictions on non-U.S. citizens were first imposed on air travelers from China in January 2020 by then-President Donald Trump and then extended to dozens of other countries, without any clear metrics for how and when to lift them.
Curbs on non-essential travelers at land borders with Mexico and Canada have been in place since March 2020 to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reuters first reported Friday’s announcement of the Nov. 8 starting date earlier in the day.
U.S. airline, hotel and cruise industry stocks rose on the news, including American Airlines, up 1.9%; Marriott International Inc, up 2.2%; and Carnival Corp, up 1.3%.
The United States had lagged many other countries in lifting such restrictions, and allies welcomed the move. The U.S. restrictions have barred travelers from most of the world, including tens of thousands of foreign nationals with relatives or business links in the United States.
The White House on Tuesday announced it would lift restrictions at its land borders and ferry crossings with Canada and Mexico for fully vaccinated foreign nationals in early November. They are similar but not identical to requirements announced last month for international air travelers.
Unvaccinated visitors will still be barred from entering the United States from Canada or Mexico at land borders.
Canada on Aug. 9 began allowing fully vaccinated U.S. visitors for non-essential travel.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told Reuters last week the United States will accept the use by international visitors of COVID-19 vaccines authorized by U.S. regulators or the World Health Organization.
The White House, which held a meeting late Thursday to finalize the Nov. 8 date, still faces some remaining questions, including how and what exemptions the Biden administration will grant to the vaccine requirements. Children under 18, for example, are largely expected to be exempt from the requirements, an official said.
U.S. Travel Association Chief Executive Roger Dow said in a statement that the Nov. 8 date “is critically important for planning – for airlines, for travel-supported businesses, and for millions of travelers worldwide who will now advance plans to visit the United States once again.”
The White House announced on Sept. 20 that the United States would lift restrictions on air travelers from 33 countries in early November. It did not specify the date at the time.
Starting Nov. 8, the United States will admit fully vaccinated foreign air travelers from the 26 so-called Schengen countries in Europe, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Greece, as well as Britain, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil. The unprecedented U.S. restrictions have barred non-U.S. citizens who were in those countries within the past 14 days.
The United States has allowed foreign air travelers from more than 150 countries throughout the pandemic, a policy that critics said made little sense because some countries with high COVID-19 rates were not on the restricted list, while some on the list had the pandemic more under control.
The White House said last month it would apply vaccine requirements to foreign nationals traveling from all other countries.
Non-U.S. air travelers will need to show proof of vaccination before boarding a flight, and will need to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test. Foreign visitors crossing a land border will not need to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test.
The new rules do not require foreign visitors or Americans entering the country to go into quarantine.
Americans traveling overseas must still show proof of a recent negative COVID-19, and unvaccinated Americans will face stricter COVID-19 testing requirements. They will also be subject to restrictions in the countries they plan to visit, which may include quarantines.
The CDC plans to soon issue new rules on contact tracing for international air travelers.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by John Stonestreet, Nick Zieminski and Jonathan Oatis)
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