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It’s going to be a busy week on the plunger end of the syringe.
In fact, if everything goes as planned, it will be the busiest week yet.
This week, Canada is expecting more than 640,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines. The combined total of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines will be 240,000 doses more than the highest weekly total the federal government has so far been able to procure.
To put that 640,000 in even more perspective, Canada passed the milestone of having one million Canadians receive at least one dose of one of the two COVID vaccines only last Friday.
The next stage has its own complexities. Picking people to get the vaccine, notifying them and actually getting them through clinics, along with making sure all that information is properly and completely recorded, is a daunting task.
It’s one thing if, as was the case up until now, provincial government health agencies are focusing on long-term care homes and front-line medical workers. Those populations are codified and easy to locate, but as vaccination spreads out into the greater population, the logistics increase tremendously.
There are a lot of Canadians, and that’s a lot of shots
Announcements of a broadening vaccination effort are spreading slowly and steadily.
Nova Scotia was one of the first three provinces to start vaccinating members of the public, along with Ontario and Alberta. In Nova Scotia, 500 residents over 80 years old were able to book time slots for their first vaccinations.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, 140 people in Conne River Miawpukek First Nation got the vaccine over this past weekend.
But there are significant hurdles: there’s a patchwork of vaccine tracking and booking systems across Canada, with many provinces operating separate systems instead of one core national system. Some, the Globe and Mail found in a recent survey of provincial and territorial governments, are even using manual tracking systems.
In the Atlantic region, Newfoundland and Labrador told the Globe it couldn’t respond because of time constraints due to a spike in COVID variant cases. Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island didn’t respond to the survey.
The federal government, to put it simply, did not perform well in early efforts to get Canadians the vaccines we need. Despite early success in booking vast amounts of vaccinations, deliveries have been slow, and Canada’s rank among nations successfully vaccinating its citizens has been steadily falling. As vaccine doses start rolling in at a steady rate of around 450,000 doses a week now, the ball is going to move into the provincial courts.
It will be far from quick. There are a lot of Canadians, and that’s a lot of shots. Let’s hope that provincial governments are better equipped to roll out vaccine delivery than the federal government has been at getting the shots. There has been plenty of time to plan.