Canada has officially approved the Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine and will be able to vaccinate its citizens as early as next week. Health Canada announced the approval on Wednesday after Pfizer and BioNtech submitted the clinical data which favourably supports the use of the vaccine and ensures its safety. Chief medical adviser at Health Canada Dr. Supriya Sharma, reassured Canadians that the department conducted a rigorous review and found “strong evidence” that the benefits of the vaccine far outweighs any risks. Major General Dany Fortin who leads the vaccination logistics at the National Operations Centre said that vaccines are expected to arrive as early as Monday and it is totally possible that some Canadians could get their shots by mid-week.
The current mandate of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is to reserve initial quantities of the vaccine for citizens who are most at risk of contracting the virus and developing serious symptoms. The vaccine would therefore be imminently available to elderly residents, those in assisted living facilities, retirement homes, hospitals, and the staff who cares for them. After these groups have been immunized the next priority will be seniors over the age of 80 and then to the wider Canadian population, respectively. Those under the age of 16 are not yet approved to get the vaccine.
Canada is the third country in the world to authorize the vaccine with the UK taking the lead and then the island of Bahrain in the middle east. This is a key step towards launching the largest inoculation campaign in Canada’s history. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the development a “big deal” because it indicates that the end of the destructive pandemic is in sight. At the same time, Trudeau urges Canadians to continue in their efforts to follow public health guidelines while they wait on the shots, to maximize their safety.