Liberals press government for details of COVID-19 vaccine rollout on P.E.I.
Health minister says until a vaccine is approved, he can't say how many doses will come to P.E.I.
The P.E.I. Liberals want more answers about when a COVID-19 vaccine could make it to the Island, and how a program to distribute it will work once it does.
Liberal MLA Heath MacDonald pressed the minister for details during question period, Thursday. He said he's heard from many Islanders who have questions about how a vaccination program will work.
"The questions are when will they be ready? How many have we secured and who gets it first?" MacDonald said. "These are all good questions and they're on the forefront of people's minds as people worry about this pandemic."
On Monday, Moderna announced its vaccine appears to be 94.5 per cent effective, according to preliminary data from the company's ongoing study, while competitor Pfizer Inc. shared a similar update to its study last week. Further testing results released by the company Wednesday show its vaccine is 95 per cent effective, is safe and also protects older people most at risk of dying.
MacDonald said government needs to have a plan in place well before the vaccine arrives.
"We've gone April to now and we still don't have a plan in place from this government," MacDonald said.
"Why wouldn't the minister provide additional, transparent information to the general public in regards to the vaccine?"
Vaccination committee established
MacDonald asked the minister how many doses of the vaccine are earmarked for P.E.I. and whether or not the Island has the facilities to store it.
Minister of Health and Wellness James Aylward said the province is working closely with the federal government to figure out the details of what a delivery program will look like.
"It's a national initiative that we're working with the federal government on. Each province, according to their population will be provided with a certain percentage of vaccines," Aylward said.
He said the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines look promising and could be available by early 2021. But, they still need approval from Health Canada. He said until a vaccine is approved, the province can't say how many units will come to P.E.I.
"We as a government are working with the federal government and we will provide vaccines as quickly as we can get them here on P.E.I.," Aylward said.
Aylward said government has formed a COVID-19 immunization committee that's looking into details of a vaccination roll out plan on P.E.I. It's tasked with identifying vulnerable groups and front-line heath-care workers who will receive the vaccine first.
"We're looking at the most vulnerable populations and the numbers in those groups so that we can better prepare for when the vaccine comes, the delivery and actually administering the vaccine," Aylward said.
MacDonald also asked the health minister for details about how vaccines would be delivered to the public. Aylward said COVID-19 vaccinations will be administered by public health and not be given out in pharmacies.