Alberta to receive 3,900 doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine next week
Province aims to complete 1st round of immunizations by the end of the holidays
Alberta will receive a shipment of 3,900 doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine next week.
Two Alberta government officials told CBC News on Monday that federal officials have told their provincial counterparts to prepare for those initial doses in the coming days.
The news comes after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday morning that several hundred thousand doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine would be available in Canada before the end of the year — shots the provincial officials said will be earmarked for long-term care home residents and the staffers working there. They added that the Alberta government's goal is to complete the first round of immunizations on a large swath of those high-risk groups by the end of the holidays.
The vaccine is under review but has not yet been approved by Health Canada.
Alberta had previously been told only about 1,000 doses of the vaccine would be available by the end of the year. Based on the planned per capita distribution of the vaccines, Alberta is earmarked for almost 29,000 doses of the ones announced Monday by the prime minister.
Those tens of thousands of doses will likely be rolled out over the coming weeks. The officials told CBC News no details had been shared yet about when the next deliveries could arrive, but they are expected shortly.
This first shipment is also a way to test the distribution chain and iron out any kinks in anticipation of those additional doses on the way.
The provinces were not given advance notice of the prime minister's news, but have subsequently spent the day co-ordinating on the vaccines.
First vaccine sites to be in Calgary, Edmonton
Alberta hit another grim milestone on Monday with 20,067 active cases of COVID-19, and reported 16 more deaths, including four on the same day in the same Edmonton care centre. As of Monday, Calgary had 7,472 active cases and Edmonton had risen to 9,190.
Across the province, a total of 609 people were being treated in hospitals for the illness, including 108 in ICU beds. The province reported 1,735 new cases, down more than 100 from the day before.
Alberta's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said Monday afternoon that one vaccine receiving site would be in Calgary and one in Edmonton. For now, eligible recipients would have to come to the sites for to be vaccinated.
Paul Wynnyk, who is overseeing the province's vaccine distribution strategy, said the necessary logistics are in place — the team is just waiting on shipments.
"We're ready to roll from that point on," he said.
Trudeau expects 249,000 vaccine doses by year-end
During Monday's announcement, Trudeau said up to 249,000 doses of the two-dose vaccine would be on hand in Canada by year's end to launch a mass inoculation campaign, which is expected to take many months to complete.
The first doses will arrive as some provinces — notably Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec — grapple with a sharp increase in COVID-19 caseloads and deaths.
Trudeau said these doses will be delivered by the company directly to 14 distribution centres now equipped with the necessary cold storage. This particular vaccine must be stored at –80 C — which will make the logistics of distribution "incredibly complex," Trudeau said.
The vaccines will be distributed to jurisdictions on a per-capita basis, meaning each province will receive vaccine doses in numbers proportionate to their share of the population. The vaccine will not be sent to the territories for the time being, as they now lack the capacity to safely store the Pfizer product.
WATCH: Trudeau says first vaccines expected to arrive next week
- The original version of this story stated the province would immunize only 1,950 Albertans with the initial batch of 3,900 doses because each person requires two shots several weeks apart. The government has since said it expects another batch to arrive in time to administer the second shot.Dec 10, 2020 8:05 PM MT
With files from J.P. Tasker, Kathleen Harris, David Cochrane and Sarah Rieger.