P.E.I. expecting up to 30,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses in early January
Aylward says vaccine will roll out in a phased approach
P.E.I.'s health minister says the province can expect 26,000 to 30,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to arrive in less than two months.
The comment was made in the legislature Friday morning after the Liberals continued to press Health Minister James Aylward on the government's ability to deliver on a vaccine rollout.
He said he spoke with Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison Thursday, "and right now what we're looking at is probably somewhere between 26,000 to 30,000 doses coming in, in early January.
"We'll roll those out as quickly as possible … it takes work. There's a lot of work behind the scenes to ensure we have a good program in place."
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Aylward said the province's immunization working group is working to identify the most vulnerable populations, like seniors or the Indigenous population, that should be prioritized when vaccine doses arrive.
"Over the last eight or nine months, we had no idea when or if a vaccine would become available," he said.
"This is new, this pandemic. This virus is new."
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 Pfizer Wednesday suggest its vaccine is 95 per cent effective, is safe and also protects older people most at risk of dying.
Aylward said P.E.I. is working in partnership with the federal government and other provinces, but Liberal MLA Heath MacDonald questioned how P.E.I. would get its fair share of vaccine doses when cases on the Island have been so low.
Earlier this week, Alberta said it was expecting to receive around 680,000 doses early in the new year. Quebec has also said it expects to begin vaccinations in early 2021, prioritizing the most at risk.
"There has been a lot of talk in the media the last while about some of the provinces that have come out and arbitrarily stated the number of doses they're getting," Aylward told the legislature minutes after revealing P.E.I.'s numbers.
"It's unfortunate that they did that, because now the federal government who is leading this project is now saying, 'No, you can't be quoting that' … We believe in co-operation; we believe in partnership. That's the approach that we're taking."
Aylward said vaccine doses will be rolled out in stages.
"Every Islander that we feel does, or that does, require a vaccination for COVID-19, we will have a vaccine available for them."