ivory-coast-begins-covid-19-inoculations-with-shots-from-covax-initiative

Ivory Coast begins COVID-19 inoculations with shots from COVAX initiative

Ivory Coast has begun giving shots to inoculate against COVID-19 with vaccines delivered last week by the global COVAX initiative, which was created to ensure that low- and middle-income countries have fair access to doses.

An Ivory Coast police officer receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the palais des sports in Abidjan on Monday. It’s hoped that around 25 nations will begin vaccination campaigns in the next week through the COVAX initiative, created to ensure that low- and middle-income countries have fair access to doses. (Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images)

Ivory Coast has begun giving shots to inoculate against COVID-19 with vaccines delivered last week by the global COVAX initiative, which was created to ensure that low- and middle-income countries have fair access to doses.

The West African country’s mass vaccination campaign started Monday with jabs being given to health workers, teachers, and members of the armed forces at the Treichville Sports Palace in the commercial capital, Abidjan, where 95 per cent of the country’s cases have been recorded, according to the health ministry.

The drive is using 504,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India. Some 24 other African countries are expected to start receiving vaccines via COVAX this week in what is the world’s largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history, according to WHO and UNICEF.

The COVAX initiative, however, has been hampered by the severely limited global supply of doses as well as logistical problems that delayed the global distribution of the vaccines.

Ivory Coast’s Health Minister Eugene Aka Aouele said the first phase of the campaign will target more than 250,000 people. He said the nation aims to vaccinate more than 5.6 million people, or 20 per cent of the population.

LISTEN | Scramble for vaccines undermines global efforts to end pandemic:

The Early Edition8:01A global conversation over vaccine supply

COVAX recently made its first deliveries to Ghana and the Ivory Coast. But Oxfam Canada says wealthy countries are still hoarding the global vaccine supply. We speak with the organziation. 8:01

Like many African countries, Ivory Coast recently battled a resurgence of the pandemic that saw increased cases and hospitalizations. It has recorded 32,754 cases and 192 deaths since its first case was recorded on March 11, 2020, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures.

The resurgence is now declining, as the 7-day rolling average of daily new cases in Ivory Coast has dropped over the past two weeks, going from 0.71 new cases per 100,000 people on Feb. 14 to 0.39 new cases per 100,000 people on Feb. 28, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

Safety assurances

As Ivory Coast’s inoculation campaign begins, health authorities are encouraging people to participate in the voluntary program.

“I reassure people that the vaccine in Ivory Coast is safe,” Director General of Health Mamadou Samba said Sunday on national television. “There is no doubt about the quality of the vaccines the Ivory Coast has received. There is a committee within us which takes care of this.”

Ivory Coast is among 92 countries that will receive vaccines for free through the COVAX initiative, which is led by the World Health Organization (WHO); Gavi, a vaccine group; and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. Another 90 countries and eight territories have agreed to pay for doses.

“This is a day many of us have been dreaming of and working for more than 12 months,” said WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a statement.

“It’s gratifying to see the fruit of that labour. But success is still to come. This is only the beginning of what COVAX was set up to achieve. We have a lot left to do to realize our vision to start vaccination in all countries within the first 100 days of the year. There are just 40 days left.”

Ghana to begin campaign this week

Ghana, which neighbours Ivory Coast, is slated to begin its vaccination campaign Tuesday or Wednesday, after being the first country to receive COVAX vaccines last week with a delivery of 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his wife got the first jabs Monday to assure the public of the safety of the vaccines.

I salute the example set by President @NAkufoAddo in receiving the first #COVID19 vaccination through the #COVAX Facility.

Your leadership is key to promoting confidence in this life-saving tool in 🇬🇭 & across Africa.https://t.co/IRP5fhnqan https://t.co/GXfujBOlle

@DrTedros

“There are still some who continue to express doubts about the vaccine, others have expressed reservations about its efficacy, with some taking sides with conspiracy theorists who believe the vaccine has been created to wipe out the African race,” he said, in a nation-wide broadcast Sunday night.

“Taking the vaccine will not alter your DNA, it will not embed a tracking device in your body, neither will it cause infertility in women or in men.”

He said Ghana’s Food and Drug Administration would not approve the vaccines for use if it had any reservations about its safety, adding that, “no vaccine will be deployed in the country for use without the express certification of the FDA.”

Ghana’s campaign from March 2 to 15 will take place in 43 districts that are the epicentre of the pandemic there.

WATCH | Stephen Lewis criticizes Canada’s COVAX decision:

Former UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa says he doesn’t understand why Canada needs to access its share of COVAX doses. 7:41

Mixed reactions

Ghanaians have mixed reactions to the vaccine.

Adwoa Bio, an unemployed graduate told AP, she wants to see Ghana’s leaders get the vaccines first.

“I am torn between trusting that it would save me from coronavirus or going along with my parents who have said they will not get vaccinated,” she said.

She complained about the late arrival of the vaccines that could have saved the lives of many people who have died.

“It is true that vaccines have helped mankind in the past, but it looks like there have been a lot of conspiracy theories against the vaccines for COVID-19 and the government would have to really put in place a public education program to change the mindset of the people, otherwise, many people will run away from it.”

ontario-sees-1,023-new-covid-19-cases-as-2-health-units-move-back-into-lockdown

Ontario sees 1,023 new COVID-19 cases as 2 health units move back into lockdown

Ontario reported another 1,023 cases of COVID-19 on Monday as nine public health units moved to different tiers of the province’s colour-coded restrictions system, including two that are headed back into lockdown.

Ontario’s lab network completed 35,015 tests and reported a test positivity rate of 3.1 per cent. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Ontario reported another 1,023 cases of COVID-19 on Monday as nine public health units moved to different tiers of the province’s colour-coded restrictions system, including two that are headed back into lockdown.

Among the new cases are 280 in Toronto, 182 in Peel Region and 72 in Ottawa.

Thunder Bay and Simcoe Muskoka, meanwhile, logged 55 and 39 additional cases, respectively. Both health units have seen a rise in new infections in recent weeks, driven in part by the spread of more contagious variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. 

Last week, the province announced it would activate what it describes as an “emergency brake” for the two regions, shifting them to the grey “lockdown” tier.

The move imposed a variety of more stringent public health measures in those regions, including capping most indoor gatherings at 10 people, closing restaurants to in-person service and forcing non-essential retailers to operate at 25 per cent capacity.

“We know this is upsetting to the local individuals and people,” Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said at a news conference on Monday. “We want to be cautious and careful and we are assessing these situations.” 

Seven other public health units, meanwhile, saw restrictions eased somewhat today as they moved down a level in the provincial framework.

The Niagara Region is now classified as red, the Chatham-Kent, Middlesex-London and Southwestern units all moved to the orange tier, Haldimand-Norfolk and Huron Perth transitioned to the yellow level, and Grey Bruce to green, the least restrictive.

As regions move into zones with looser restrictions, Williams advised people to stay vigilant about the variants of concern no matter which colour zone they’re in, saying those variants are much more easily transmissible. 

As for further cases in today’s report, the following public health units also reported double-digit increases:

  • Hamilton: 53
  • York Region: 47
  • Halton Region: 39
  • Waterloo Region: 39
  • Durham Region: 34
  • Niagara Region: 30
  • Windsor-Essex: 22
  • Middlesex-London: 18
  • Brant County: 16
  • Lambton: 14
  • Northwestern: 12
  • Peterborough: 12
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 12
  • Sudbury: 11

(Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit on a given day, because local units report figures at different times.)

The seven-day average of new cases fell slightly to 1,099. 

Ontario’s lab network completed 35,015 tests for the virus and reported a test positivity rate of 3.1 per cent. The seven-day average of positivity rates has been relatively flat for several days.

Seven more cases screened positive for the virus variant first identified in the United Kingdom, bringing the total number so far to 535. No new cases linked to variants first found in South Africa and Brazil were added to today’s update.

As of Sunday, the cumulative number of cases of variants of concern in the province sits at 565. 

The Ministry of Education reported 116 school related infections: 99 students, 15 staff members and two people who were not identified. Twenty schools, or about 0.4 per cent of all publicly-funded schools in Ontario, are currently closed due to the illness.

Health units also recorded the deaths of six more people with COVID-19, bringing the province’s official toll to 6,986.

Soft launch for vaccine booking portal

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said Ontario’s website for booking COVID-19 vaccination appointments will begin a soft launch in six health units this week.

The online portal is currently scheduled to be operational provincewide on March 15.

Regions participating in the soft launch are:

  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington
  • Peterborough
  • Hastings and Prince Edward Counties
  •  Leeds, Grenville and Lanark
  • Grey Bruce
  • Lambton

But the spokesperson noted the site will not be available to the general public in those regions. Officials will reach out to a small number of people aged 80 or older and eligible health-care workers to invite them to participate.

“This will help inform the province’s plan to organize the vaccination of larger populations, providing the opportunity to try components of the system before the full launch,” the spokesperson said in an email.

Some public health units have begun offering appointments and first doses to residents 80 years old and above before Ontario’s centralized booking system becomes available to the public. Guelph, Ottawa, Waterloo and Simcoe Muskoka are among them.

In the GTA, York Region began booking appointments this morning. In an emailed statement to CBC Toronto, a spokesperson for the region’s public health unit said within the first two hours of operation, approximately 20,000 appointments were booked across the region’s five locations on the online portal. 

Within hours, the region posted to its official Twitter account that all available appointments had been taken, and more will only become available once there is local capacity and vaccine supply.

Due to high demand, appointments for residents 80+ are now full at available clinics. Future appointments will be available once capacity allows and vaccine supply is available. Please check back often as announcements are made on various channels. Thank you for your patience. pic.twitter.com/A1tWbNYH0G

@YorkRegionGovt

The Ministry of Health said it anticipates that public health units using their own programs for online appointments right now will migrate to the province’s portal once it has launched.

“Be careful, be consistent, wait for your vaccine — it’s coming,” Williams said. 

The province said it administered 17,424 doses of COVID-19 vaccine yesterday. A total of 263,214 people have now received both shots of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, according to the Ministry of Health. Last week, Health Canada approved Astrazeneca’s vaccine for use, though there has been no word on when doses may actually arrive in provinces.

covid-19-outbreak-‘painful’-reminder-of-speed-of-infection-spread,-says-pei.-premier

COVID-19 outbreak ‘painful’ reminder of speed of infection spread, says P.E.I. premier

P.E.I. has been spared the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the last week has been a reminder of how quickly conditions can change, says Premier Dennis King.

Premier Dennis King is hopeful the red phase of COVID-19 restrictions will be short-lived. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

P.E.I. has been spared the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the last week has been a reminder of how quickly conditions can change, says Premier Dennis King.

“What we’ve learned in this last year of COVID is this snaps back and hits you pretty fast if you don’t continue following the protocols,” King told Island Morning host Mitch Cormier.

“These reminders are painful and this one is probably the most painful of all.”

Last Wednesday, there were just three active cases of COVID-19 on the Island, all traceable to travel outside the province. As of Monday morning, there are 18 confirmed — the most active cases since early April 2020 — with clusters in both Charlottetown and Summerside, about 60 kilometres northwest of the capital.

There is no clear link between the two clusters, and no link to travel for either one.

“This had to come from somewhere. We need to try to determine where that is,” said King.  

Testing ramped up

The P.E.I. government has taken two measures to try to get the outbreak under control. It has moved to a red phase of pandemic restrictions, closing non-essential businesses to the public, and it has ramped up testing.

The province has published a list of potential exposure sites, and is asking anyone who has been at those locations to get tested. The province is also asking all people aged 19 to 29 who work in the following industries — food service, meat and fish processing, call centres and transportation and delivery, as well as long-term care staff who are not vaccinated — to get tested.

By mid-afternoon Monday, the province’s Chief Public Health Office said no additional positive results had come back from the lab, after 6,632 tests on Saturday and Sunday, but 1,600 results were still pending.

“All of us should take this very seriously and act accordingly,” said King.  

“We’ve been very fortunate, and almost spoiled in a way … For the most part, our lives have not been impacted. I don’t know if that has led people to, quote unquote, let their guard down a little bit or just not take this as seriously as it needs to be.”

Schools offline

The red phase has been announced for 72 hours and is due to end at midnight on Wednesday. King is hopeful the province will be able to gather enough information through the expanded testing to have a better idea of the source of the infections in that time.

The province is still waiting for analysis of the current cases to see if they are the more contagious coronavirus variants that have been spreading in other parts of the country.

Schools have been closed during the red phase, and there is no online learning, either.

While school is out, the province has set up a COVID-19 testing clinic at Three Oaks High School in Summerside. (Nicola MacLeod/CBC)

King said it would take about three days to get K-6 students online, and a day-and-a-half for other grades. Teachers have been asked to begin that process, but King is hopeful students will be able to return to the classroom.

Outbreaks will remain a potential danger until the province achieves its goal of vaccinating 75 per cent of Islanders, King said.

As of Feb. 24, about three per cent of all Islanders had been vaccinated, based on the province’s published numbers. Children cannot be vaccinated at this time, so the numbers show about five per cent of Island adults have gotten at least one shot. 

King expects the rate of vaccination will increase dramatically in the second quarter of this year.

More from CBC P.E.I.

ontario’s-long-term-care-minister-was-‘ahead’-of-top-public-health-doctor-on-covid-19,-commission-reveals

Ontario’s long-term care minister was ‘ahead’ of top public health doctor on COVID-19, commission reveals

Merrilee Fullerton, Ontario’s long-term care minister was aware of the dangers the novel coronavirus posed to the sector long before it was declared a global pandemic, a newly released transcript from the province’s commission on the matter reveals.

Ontario Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton, pictured in January, was concerned about asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 in long-term care homes as early as Feb. 5, 2020, according to a newly released transcript from the province’s commission on the matter. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Ontario’s long-term care minister was aware of the dangers the novel coronavirus posed to the sector long before it was declared a global pandemic, a newly released transcript from the province’s commission on the matter reveals.

The transcript of the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission’s interview with Merrilee Fullerton and her deputy shows the pair advocated for stronger measures than what the government was willing to put in place, earlier than they were willing to act.

That’s particularly true of Fullerton, a long-time family doctor.

“You were ahead of the chief medical officer of health in many respects, from your notes anyway,” John Callaghan, the commission lawyer questioning Fullerton, told her.

For instance, Fullerton’s notes from the time suggest she was concerned about asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 in long-term care homes as early as Feb. 5, 2020.

That possibility wasn’t publicly acknowledged by the government until much later.

“I recognize that at times people can overstep, so that was — I needed to listen to the experts and the science and … I was trying to wear my — not my doctor or public health hat, because that’s not the role I had,” she told the commission.

Role as doctor gave minister insights

But she noted that her personal history gave her insights into the situation that other politicians may lack.

“I had suspicions early on only — well, because I’m a family doctor and spent many years dealing with the elderly,” she said. “They may not present with typical symptoms, and so you always have to be watching.”

In other cases, such as the directive for staffers to only work at one long-term care home rather than toggling between facilities, potentially spreading the virus, it was legal issues and questions about whether there would be enough staff to keep the homes running that delayed government action.

Meanwhile, in a statement issued on Monday, Ontario’s Opposition condemned Fullerton’s inaction, saying she should have spoken out earlier on the risk COVID-19 posed to the province’s nursing homes.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the minister should have made her concerns public when the government said the opposite at the start of the pandemic.

Horwath said if Fullerton had spoken up about the situation, she could have saved lives.

WATCH | LTC staff weren’t restricted to one home because of low pay:

Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams told Ontario’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission that he was initially reluctant to restrict workers to a single home early in the pandemic because care home positions “didn’t pay a large amount.” 2:00

Pushed for essential caregivers to return earlier

COVID-19 has devastated Ontario’s long-term care system, causing the deaths of 3,744 residents and 11 staff members so far.

Fullerton also refused to suggest the risk of COVID-19 was low in a video filmed in early March, the transcript shows.

“I was very concerned about doing a video that would show or tell people that the risk was low, even though that was what health experts and the health leaders in Canada were saying,” she said.

Her notes from the pandemic’s first wave, read out during the interview, also show that she advocated for locking down long-term care homes before the province did so and was concerned about staff not wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times the week before the province made it mandatory.

Fullerton told the commission she was also advocating for essential caregivers to be allowed back into long-term care homes as early as May.

Such caregivers — usually family members — weren’t allowed back into the facilities until July, and even then, the Ministry of Long-Term Care has said, the rules were being applied inconsistently until adjustments were made in September.

But she said others — particularly Dr. David Williams, the chief medical officer of health — said the risk of essential caregivers bringing COVID-19 into the facilities was too great.

“I was very eager to get caregivers back into the homes, because I believe it was well-being and emotional well-being,” Fullerton said. “However, others understood differently and had their reasons for understanding the risks that they did, and so it was left.”

Early reliance on Ministry of Health

The transcript also paints a portrait of a nascent ministry thrust into a pandemic before it could gather its bearings.

The Ministry of Long-Term Care was spun off from the Ministry of Health (formerly known as the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care) mid-2019, and the commission heard it spent much of that year getting set up.

The Ministry of Long-Term Care was spun off from the Ministry of Health in an effort to “put a lens on the long-standing neglect” of the sector, Fullerton said.

But when the pandemic struck, the Ministry of Long-Term Care was still largely dependent on the Ministry of Health, she said, and when it came time to communicate with long-term care homes about the pandemic, the newly formed ministry was being left out.

“Just wondering why Ministry of Health is issuing, reissuing the guidelines without MLTC,” Fullerton wrote in an email early in the pandemic, which was read out during the interview.

“I understand MOH is the lead, but MLTC must be part of this communication to our own sector.”

Her chief of staff echoed the sentiment in a separate email dated March 31.

“PPE has been deployed to hospitals and correctional facilities. This was done with LTC partners on the line,” he wrote. “We are too often the forgotten partner.”

The commission is set to present a report on April 30 that will include recommendations aimed at preventing similar outcomes in the future, in addition to two interim reports that have already been released.

sask.-indigenous-groups-support-letter-of-intent-submitted-to-obtain-6m-doses-of-oxford-astrazeneca-vaccine

Sask. Indigenous groups support letter of intent submitted to obtain 6M doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) says it submitted a letter of intent to obtain at least six million doses of the newly-approved Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine. Now it’s asking for funding from the federal government to secure the doses.

A nurse prepares for the first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at nursing home in Goyang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. South Korea on Friday administered its first available shots of coronavirus vaccines to people at long-term care facilities, launching a mass immunization campaign that health authorities hope will restore some level of normalcy by the end of the year. (Lee Jin-man/The Associated Press)

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations says it submitted a letter of intent to obtain at least six million doses of the newly-approved Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine.

“Our First Nations leaders decided that we should take advantage of our international relationships and secure our own supply of this life-saving vaccine,” Cameron said in a statement. 

“If we can help the broader Canadian public, then we will absolutely do that.”

FSIN — along with the James Smith Cree Nation, the Prince Albert Grand Council and Meadow Lake Tribal Council — are now asking for funding to obtain the vaccines.

James Smith Cree Nation Chief Wally Burns confirmed the letter was submitted and said it secures anywhere between six and 60 million doses of the vaccine.

He said the Cree Nation is using its right to sovereignty in submitting a letter of intent for the vaccines in a way that groups like the FSIN, Prince Albert Grand Council or Meadow Lake Tribal Council could not.

The Cree Nation, he said, is also hoping to see the federal government recognize the pestilence and medicine chest clauses of Treaty 6 — which the Nation is a signatory of — and provide the funding required to secure the vaccines.

The clauses have been interpreted by Indigenous leaders to mean that the federal government has an obligation to provide health care to First Nations people on an ongoing basis.  

“That’s one of the things I really take [seriously], is making sure the Treaties are looked upon and acted upon on both parties,” Burns said. 

“I’m asking to make sure that we do understand and how we can utilize this… as a Treaty area.” 

There was a possibility, he said, that vaccines could start rolling out by the end of March if the necessary funding were approved.

The Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine was approved by Health Canada for use in the country on Friday after a months-long review.

The department’s regulators found the shot has an efficacy rate of 62 per cent and it was authorized for use in adults 18 and older. 

The regulators found the shot to be 100 per cent effective in preventing the severe outcomes of COVID-19 including serious illness, hospitalization and death.

The FSIN news release said due to the early submission of the letter of intent to purchase the doses, the vaccines could arrive “in a very timely manner.”

Another letter obtained by CBC News showed FSIN contacted the Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller at least two times in February to procure funding for the letter of intent’s ask.

The letter to the minister said FSIN had an opportunity to obtain anywhere between six and 60 million doses of the Oxford University-Astrazeneca vaccine. 

The letter asked the minister to immediately provide $21 million to FSIN to complete the purchase of six million doses.

“Six million doses is greater than what we require,” the letter, signed by Chief Cameron, said. 

“We will of course be more than pleased to help all Canadians by turning the decision for distribution back to you, to meet your priorities of front-line workers and long term care homes.”

Burns said he was to meet with Department of Indigenous Service officials to pursue funding for the vaccine doses further.

A request for further comment from FSIN was not returned by deadline. A request for comment from the Department of Indigenous Services was directed to Health Canada.

Health Canada did not return a request for comment by deadline.

bc.-accelerates-timeline-for-first-vaccine-doses,-rolls-out-appointment-system-for-seniors-over-80

B.C. accelerates timeline for first vaccine doses, rolls out appointment system for seniors over 80

Every eligible adult in British Columbia should be able to receive a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by late July after the approval of a new vaccine and a decision to delay second doses. Health officials announced the accelerated timeline Monday as the province moved into the second, seniors-focused phase.

People wait in line for their COVID-19 vaccine in Vancouver on Dec. 22, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Every eligible adult in British Columbia should be able to receive a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by late July after the approval of a new vaccine and a decision to delay second doses.

Health officials announced the accelerated timeline Monday as the province moved into the second, seniors-focused phase.

Starting Monday, health authorities will contact residents and staff of independent living centres, and those living in seniors’ supportive housing, as well as home-care support clients and staff.

Seniors who do not live in care can call to book their own appointment based on a staggered schedule, which is as follows: 

  • From March 8: Seniors over the age of 90 (those born in or before 1931) and Indigenous people over the age of 65 (those born in or before 1956).
  • From March 15: Seniors over the age of 85 (those born in or before 1936).
  • From March 22: Seniors 80 and older (those born in or before 1941).

The phone numbers are listed on the provincial government’s website. Phones lines are open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. PT. Those who live in the Fraser Health region have the option to book online.

If a senior cannot call to book themselves, a family member, friend or support person can do so on their behalf. The immunization clinic location will be confirmed on the call, with vaccinations starting as early as March 15 for the first group.

The province is using a staggered schedule so the call centre is not overwhelmed by thousands of calls at once. People are being asked only to call when they are eligible. 

B.C. released a graphic showing when and how seniors can register to get their COVID-19 vaccine in 2021. (B.C. Ministry of Health)

Extending gap between 1st, 2nd dose

Also on Monday, the province announced it is extending the time between first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine to four months. The change, as well as Health Canada’s approval of a third vaccine, means every eligible person in B.C. will receive the first dose of their vaccine by mid- to late July.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control — and countries around the world such as the United Kingdom and New Zealand — shows “miraculous” protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of a Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

A health-care worker displays a vial of AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on Monday. The vaccine was approved by Health Canada on Feb. 26. (Luc Gnago/REUTERS)

She said the National Advisory Committee on Immunization is expected to issue a statement to align with B.C.’s decision, which frees up 70,000 doses for younger age groups.

“This is amazing news,” said Henry. “These vaccines work, they give a very high level of protection and that protection lasts for many months.”

“This gives us a very real and important benefit to everybody here in B.C.,” Henry added. “That means we can move everybody up the list and more people will be protected sooner.”

Essential workers might be bumped up queue

The newly authorized AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine will also accelerate B.C.’s overall vaccine timeline, possibly bumping front-line workers up the queue. The province expects to receive its first shipment — likely 60,000 doses — on the week of March 9.

Henry said first responders and essential workers may be eligible to get vaccinated starting in April as the province decides on a strategy for the AstraZeneca vaccine.

B.C.’s original vaccination plan aims to vaccinate 4.3 million eligible adults by September. The four-phase approach is based on age, with the province vaccinating the most vulnerable elderly first before reaching younger adults in the summer.

People between 60 and 79 and medically vulnerable people aged 16 and up are expected to get their shots starting in mid-April by registering for an appointment online.


CBC British Columbia is hosting a town hall on March 10 to answer your COVID-19 vaccine questions. 

You can find the details at cbc.ca/ourshot, as well as opportunities to participate in two community conversations on March 3, focused on outreach to Indigenous and multicultural communities. 

Have a question about the vaccine, or the rollout plan in B.C.? Email us: bcasks@cbc.ca 

why-astrazeneca-vaccine-approval-in-canada-may-open-more-doors

Why AstraZeneca vaccine approval in Canada may open more doors

Health Canada’s approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to prevent COVID-19 in adults follows similar green lights from regulators worldwide.

A health worker holds up a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 to be administered to members of the Italian army in Rome on Feb. 23. The vaccine is the latest approved for use in Canada to protect against COVID-19. (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press)

Health Canada’s approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India’s version to prevent COVID-19 in adults follows similar green lights from regulators in the United Kingdom, Europe Union, Mexico and India.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, called ChAdOx1, was approved for use in Canada on Friday following clinical trials in the United Kingdom and Brazil that showed a 62.1 per cent efficacy in reducing symptomatic cases of COVID-19 cases among those given the vaccine. Experts have said any vaccine with an efficacy rate of over 50 per cent could help stop outbreaks.

Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada’s chief medical adviser, said the key number across all of the clinical trials for those who received AstraZeneca’s product was zero — no deaths, no hospitalizations for serious COVID-19 and no deaths because of an adverse effect of the vaccine.

“I think Canada is hungry for vaccines,” Sharma said in a briefing. “We’re putting more on the buffet table to be used.”

Specifically, 64 of 5,258 in the vaccination group got COVID-19 with symptoms compared with people in the control group given injections (154 of 5,210 got COVID-19 with symptoms).

Dr. Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control at Toronto’s University Health Network, called it a positive move to have AstraZeneca’s vaccines added to Canada’s options.

“Even though the final efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine appears lower than what we have with the mRNA vaccines, it’s still reasonably good,” Hota said.

“What we need to be focusing on is trying to get as many people as possible vaccinated so we can prevent the harms from this.”

Canada has an agreement with AstraZeneca to buy 20 million doses as well as between 1.9 million and 3.2 million doses through the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as COVAX.

WATCH | AstraZeneca vaccine overview: 

Important details about the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19, like how well it works and what we’ve learned from other countries already using it. 3:12

Canada will also receive 2 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, the government announced Friday. 

Here’s a look at some common questions about the vaccine, how it works, in whom and how it could be rolled out.

What’s different about this shot?

The Oxford-AstraZeneca is cheaper and easier to handle than the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which need to be stored at ultracold temperatures to protect the fragile genetic material.

AstraZeneca says its vaccine can be stored, transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions (2 to 8 C) for at least six months. (Moderna’s product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures for 30 days after thawing.)

The ease of handling could make it easier to administer AstraZeneca’s vaccine in rural and remote areas of Canada and the world.

“There are definitely some advantages to having multiple vaccine candidates available to get to as many Canadians as possible,” Hota said.

Sharma said while the product monograph notes that evidence for people over age 65 is limited, real-world data from countries already using AstraZeneca’s vaccine suggest it is safe and effective among older age groups.

“We have real-world evidence from Scotland and the U.K. for people that have been dosed that would have been over 80 and that has shown significant drop in hospitalizations,” Sharma said, based on a preprint.

Data from clinical trials is more limited compared with in real-world settings that reflect people from different age groups, medical conditions and other factors. 

How does it work?

Vaccines work by training our immune system to recognize an invader.

The first two vaccines to protect against COVID-19 that were approved for use in Canada deliver RNA that encodes the spike protein on the surface of the pandemic coronavirus.

Health-care workers Diego Feitosa Ferreira, right, and Clemilton Lopes de Oliveira travel on a boat in the state of Amazonas in Brazil, on Feb. 12, to vaccinate residents with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures, which facilitates its use in remote areas. (Edmar Barros/The Associated Press)

In contrast, the AstraZeneca vaccine packs the genetic information for the spike protein in the shell of a virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees. Vaccine makers altered the adenovirus so it can’t grow in humans.

Viral vector vaccines mimic viral infection more closely than some other kinds of vaccines. One disadvantage of viral vectors is that if a person has immunity toward a particular vector, the vaccine won’t work as well. But people are unlikely to have been exposed to a chimpanzee adenovirus.

AstraZeneca is working on reformulating its vaccine to address more transmissible variants of coronavirus.

How and where could it be used?

Virologist Eric Arts at Western University in London, Ont., said vaccines from Oxford-AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, which is also under review by Health Canada, and Russian Sputnik-V vaccines all have some similarities.

“I do like the fact that AstraZeneca has decided to continue trials, to work with the Russians on the Sputnik-V vaccine combination,” said Arts, who holds the Canada Research Chair in HIV pathogenesis and viral control.

Boxes with AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine are pictured at St. Mary’s Hospital in Dublin, Ireland. Health Canada says the vaccine is given by two separate injections of 0.5 millilitres each into the muscle of the arm. (Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters)

“The reason why I’m encouraged by it is I think there might be greater opportunity to administer those vaccines in low- to middle-income countries. We need that. I think our high-income countries have somewhat ignored the situation that is more significant globally.”

Researchers reported on Feb. 2 in the journal Lancet that in a Phase 3 clinical trial involving about 20,000 people in Russia, the two-dose Sputnik-V vaccine was about 91 per cent effective and appears to prevent inoculated individuals from becoming severely ill with COVID-19.

WATCH | Performance of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine so far:

Infectious diseases specialist Dr. Matthew Oughton breaks down how effective the latest vaccine approved by Health Canada will be in the fight against COVID-19. 3:45

There were 16 COVID-19 cases in the vaccine group (0.1 per cent or 16/14,964) and 62 cases (1.3 per cent or [62/4,902) in the control group.

No serious adverse events were associated with vaccination. Most adverse events were mild, such as flu-like symptoms, pain at injection site and weakness or low energy.

Arts and other scientists acknowledged the speed and lack of transparency of the Russian vaccination program. But British scientists Ian Jones and Polly Roy wrote in an accompanying commentary that the results are clear and add another vaccine option to reduce the incidence of COVID-19.

being-black-in-canada-|-special-presentation-(2021)

Being Black in Canada | Special presentation (2021)

  • 2 days ago
  • News
  • 21:51

What are the challenges facing Black Canadians amid the renewed movement to end anti-Black racism? In this Being Black in Canada special presentation hosted by CBC’s Asha Tomlinson, we hear from Canadians, including artist Robert Small and activist Jesse Lipscombe, who are continuing their journey for social justice and are determined to effect long-lasting change.

21 Black Futures is a co-production between Obsidian Theatre and CBC Arts.

torstar-to-launch-online-casino-to-help-fund-its-journalism

Torstar to launch online casino to help fund its journalism

Torstar Corp., owner of the Toronto Star, the Hamilton Spectator and other papers, announced on Monday it plans to launch an online casino betting brand in Ontario this year.

Torstar Corp. was recently taken over by a company called Nordstar. (Eduardo Lima/Canadian Press)

Torstar Corp., owner of the Toronto Star, the Hamilton Spectator and other papers, announced on Monday it plans to launch an online casino betting brand in Ontario this year.

“We are excited at the prospect of participating in a regulated online Ontario gaming market with a made-in-Ontario product,” said Corey Goodman, Torstar’s chief corporate development officer, in a news release.

After decades of being controlled by a trust owned by the families who founded the Toronto Star in 1892, Torstar was recently bought by an investment company called Nordstar, which promised to maintain the company’s focus on producing “world-class journalism befitting the Star’s storied history.”

The Toronto Star has, since its founding, espoused the so-called Atkinson principles, which are named after one of the founding families and broadly focus on advancing progressive causes such as worker protections, civil liberties, and other social justice issues.

Torstar’s new owners say they are branching into online gambling to help pay for those continuing efforts.

“Doing this as part of Torstar will help support the growth and expansion of quality community-based journalism,” co-owner Paul Rivett said. 

Plans contingent on expansion of online gambling market

The company cited government data showing Ontarians spend about $500 million a year on online gambling, with the vast majority going to grey market websites domiciled outside Canada, where there is less legal and regulatory scrutiny, and the revenue does little to stimulate the Ontario economy.

Under current rules, only the Ontario government itself is licensed to conduct online gambling, but the province’s last budget opened the door to expanding the market to other companies some time this year.

Torstar says its plans are contingent on those government plans moving ahead.

Rivett said it’s to everyone’s benefit for an Ontario-based company like Torstar to become a player in the province’s industry.

“We want to ensure the new marketplace is well represented with a Canadian, Ontario-based gaming brand so that more of our players’ entertainment dollars stay in our province,” he said.

Company diversifying revenue models

A gaming industry consultant hired by Torstar to advise the company said it’s not clear yet how much revenue the new business will generate since the government review process is not complete.

“We don’t know how big the market is going to be in Ontario yet, because it will depend on the consultation process within government, which is about to happen in the next couple of months,” Jim Warren said in an interview with the Canadian Press.

“What we do know is that Torstar is looking at diversifying the revenue model of how we fund and pay for reporters, columnists, and editorial staff.”

The move is also just the latest by Torstar to diversify its business beyond newspapers and into other digital realms.

In November, the company launched a parcel delivery service, and then in January partnered with retailer Golf Town to purchase the SCOREGolf brand.

Concern about media independence

The move is not without its critics. Tom Muench, a city councillor in Richmond Hill, Ont., just north of Toronto, said newspapers are critical to the functioning of a healthy democracy, so it gives him pause that such a prominent newspaper chain may be financially beholden to an outside business to keep its doors open.

“I think it’s fair to say that if a casino was to pop up in communities say six months ago, many local Torstar-owned papers would write a concerned local story,” he told CBC News in an email.

He also wonders how those same newspapers would report on it, if any other sort of business were to open an online gambling operation on the side.

“If the federal government propped up the media with government tax dollars and now with casinos, how do we assure a strong independent news and media industry?” 

as-vaccine-supply-ramps-up,-provinces-and-territories-fine-tune-rollout-plans

As vaccine supply ramps up, provinces and territories fine-tune rollout plans

Vaccine deliveries are ramping up and Canadians everywhere are asking themselves the same questions: When will it be my turn? And how will I know?

Provincial and territorial vaccination plans are starting to come into clearer focus. (Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP Photo)

Vaccine deliveries are ramping up and provinces and territories are starting to unveil more of their vaccine rollout plans.

Each province has a phased plan for vaccine deployment which indicates when the various priority groups can expect to receive the shots.

Here’s what we know so far about who’s getting the shots and when.

British Columbia

B.C. is still in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout, which covers residents and staff of long-term care facilities, health care workers who may provide care for COVID-19 patients and remote and isolated Indigenous communities.

The subsequent phase is expected to run through March and includes seniors 80 and over, Indigenous seniors 65 and over, hospital staff and medical specialists, vulnerable populations living and working in congregated settings and staff providing in-home support to seniors.

B.C. is planning to announce the details of Phase 2 of the immunization program on Monday.

Immunization clinics overseen by local health authorities are being organized in 172 communities in school gymnasiums, arenas, convention centres and community halls.

B.C. said it would start reaching out to those in line for vaccines in Phase 2 to tell them how to pre-register for immunization appointments.

A truck carrying COVID-19 vaccine crosses the Canada-U.S. border into B.C. on Monday, Dec. 12, 2020. (CBSA/Lestudio Neuf)

People will be notified by postcard, email, text or phone call, through specialty clinics, independent living homes, home care services and family physician offices.

Pre-registration for vaccinations opens in March. People can pre-register, online or by phone, two to four weeks before they are eligible. Eligibility is based on the current phase of the vaccination program and the recipient’s age.

Those contacted for vaccination appointments are pre-screened for eligibility before they choose a location, date and time to receive the shot.

Mass clinics for the general population are scheduled to start on April 6, beginning with the 75-79 age group.

The B.C. government website says it is developing a registration and record system and a process to register for vaccine access and receive a formal record of immunization.

For more information about B.C.’s vaccination plan, go here.

Alberta

As of Feb. 24, seniors 75 and over (born in 1946 or earlier) and seniors 65 and over living in First Nations and Métis communities were eligible for vaccination. The Alberta government estimates there are about 230,000 seniors in these two groups.

Starting the first week of March, select pharmacies in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer will be offering the vaccine. By the end of the week about 100 pharmacies will provide shots. A list of participating pharmacies can be found here.

Staff at participating pharmacies will contact people who are eligible for the shots.

Given the anticipated vaccine delivery schedule, Alberta Health Services says it expects it will be vaccinating people in this first phase over most of March.

Allan Pasutto, 86, of Penhold, Alberta gets the COVID-19 vaccine in Red Deer. (AHS)

Phase 2 is expected to begin in April. Vaccinations in this phase will be offered to anyone aged 50 to 74 years, anyone with underlying health conditions, First Nations and Métis people aged 35 and older, residents and staff in congregate living settings and eligible caregivers.

The Alberta government says that, as supply increases, it will accelerate vaccinations on the model of its annual flu campaign by using Alberta Health Services staff, community pharmacies and family physicians. The province was able to administer 1.3 million flu shots in six weeks last fall — an average of over 30,000 shots per day.

Starting February 24, Alberta started using an online booking tool www.ahs.ca/covidvaccine. Those eligible for vaccination also can call the province’s 811 Health Link number for information.

Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said appointments are now available seven days a week from 8:20 a.m. to 3:40 p.m. at 58 sites around the province, and the hours will be extended as more vaccines arrive.

No walk-ins are allowed. Seniors who can’t find transportation to their appointments can call 211 — the government’s information line for programs and services — for help.

For more information about Alberta’s vaccination plan, go here.

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan’s Phase 1 is still underway, focusing on health care workers, residents and staff of long-term care homes, residents 70 years and older and residents in remote and northern regions over the age of 50.

People eligible for vaccination in Phase 1 are being contacted directly by phone or mail.

Phase 2 is expected to begin in April and will cover the general population, starting with people aged 60-69 and working down in 10 year increments. Phase 2 will also cover individuals considered to be extremely vulnerable to infection, and staff and residents of group homes and emergency shelters.

Doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine are loaded onto a plane for delivery to Southend and Wollaston in Saskatchewan. (Colin Ratushniak )

The province said it expects that when Phase 2 begins, the Saskatchewan Health Authority will be operating 226 vaccine clinics in 181 communities across the province. Those clinics will include mass vaccination sites, drive-through locations and mobile vaccination clinics. More sites will be added through pharmacies and doctors’ offices.

A mass vaccination clinic will open in April at the International Trade Centre at Evraz Place in Regina. Appointments will be needed.

People will be asked to register for vaccination through an online platform or by phone. 

For more information about Saskatchewan’s vaccination plan, go here.

Manitoba

Manitoba’s immunization teams are now vaccinating all residents age 92 and older (born on or before December 31, 1928) and First Nations people 72 and older (born on or before December 31, 1948).

Vaccinations are also available to individuals working in laboratories handling COVID-19 specimens, in immunization clinics and testing sites and in isolation accommodation facilities. The vaccine is being offered now to those working in congregate living facilities who were born on or before Dec. 31, 1960, and people working in licensed personal care homes.

A COVID-19 vaccine dose is administered in Thompson, Manitoba. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Health care staff who work for acute care facilities and emergency response services (ERS), home care workers, correctional facility staff, dental office staff and those who work in facilities providing services insured by Manitoba Health and Seniors Care (such as family medical practices and outpatient surgical units) are eligible for the vaccine.

So are community services workers, staff at homeless shelters and family violence shelters and those who provide disability services and child and family services.

The next eligible group includes health care workers who were not included in Phase 1, residents and staff of shared living facilities and essential workers. It’s not known yet when Manitobans in this group will receive their shots.

Manitoba has set up a Vaccine Queue Calculator to allow Manitobans to estimate when they’ll receive their vaccines.

The province expects to open two new “supersites” for large-scale vaccinations in Selkirk and the Morden-Wrinkler area the week of March 12, bringing the number of such sites to six. (Three are in Winnipeg, Brandon and Thompson, with a fourth facility at the airport outside Thompson.)

The province says it plans to expand to 13 supersites throughout Manitoba in April. It has hired 1,212 staffers to help with the vaccination effort.

More than 400 medical clinics and pharmacies have applied to be a part of the immunization campaign.

Manitobans with questions about the vaccination plan and their position in the queue can go to this website or call a toll-free number: 1-844-626-8222.

Manitoba’s booking portal is still in the testing phase.

Ontario

Ontario’s vaccination rollout is in Phase 1, which covers staff and essential caregivers in long-term care homes, high-risk retirement homes and First Nations elder care homes, and highest-priority health care workers.

In March, Phase 1 is expected to expand to adults 80 years of age and older, staff, residents and caregivers in retirement homes and other congregate care settings, high-priority health care workers, all Indigenous adults and adult recipients of chronic home care.

Vaccines have been delivered to Ontario’s 34 public health units in Ontario and the pace of the rollout could vary depending on the region.

Nicole Laplante, centre, receives a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in Embrun, Ont., Jan. 13, 2021. (Submitted by the Eastern Ontario Health Unit)

Phase 2 is set to begin in April. This phase will add more vaccination sites, including municipally run locations, hospital sites, mobile vaccination locations, pharmacies, clinics, community-run health centres and aboriginal health centres.

In August, the province is to move to Phase 3 and make vaccines available to everyone who wants to be immunized.

The Ontario government’s online portal for mass vaccination pre-registration and appointment booking is set to launch on March 15. For those without access to the internet, the province will establish a customer service desk to register and book appointments. Neighbourhood mobile clinics are being planned by local public health units. 

For more information about Ontario’s vaccination plan, go here.

Quebec

On the island of Montreal, vaccinations are now available to people 80 and older. To make an appointment, go to this website or call 514-644-4545.

The rest of Quebec will start vaccinating anyone 85 years of age or older next week. Anyone born before 1936 can start making an appointment for their first dose on February 25, by phone (1-877-644-4545) or online.

Quebec has posted a document describing the procedure here. Once more vaccines arrive, Quebec plans to expand inoculations to include seniors 70 and up and those with chronic health conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19.

The province has started to prepare by securing mass vaccination sites, such as the Olympic Stadium.

Quebec Premier François Legault and Health Minister Christian Dubé watch a woman register for her COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

It has set up mass vaccination sites already in major urban centres in anticipation of an increase in the vaccine supply.  One of them — the Palais des congress de Montreal, in the heart of downtown — is set up to vaccinate up to 2,000 people per day.

For more information about Quebec’s vaccination plan, go here.

New Brunswick

Phase 1 is underway, covering long-term care residents and staff, front line health care staff, First Nations adults 16+ and individuals 85 and over.

Clinics are being held this week and next at 321 licensed long-term care homes and those vaccinations are expected to be completed by March 14. Residents and staff are being contacted directly by their employers to register for vaccination. Others in Phase 1 are being contacted directly to book appointments.

For individuals aged 85 or older living in the community, details on clinic locations and registration process will be announced in the coming weeks.

A box containing 1,950 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 arrives at the Miramichi Regional Hospital. (Government of New Brunswick)

Phase 2 starts in April and will include residents in other communal settings, health care workers providing direct patient care (such as pharmacists and dentists), firefighters, police officers, home support workers for seniors, people 70 and over, people with complex medical conditions, volunteers at long-term care homes, people 40 and over with three or more chronic conditions and truckers or workers who cross the Canada-U.S. border regularly.

The N.B. government’s website says that details about who can register for vaccination and when will be announced in the coming weeks. Clinic locations are also being finalized.

The province is asking residents to wait for those details instead of tying up resources by calling the provincial tele-care number or their local health practitioners.

Prince Edward Island

P.E.I.’s vaccination effort is in its first phase, which will continue throughout March. Public health nurses had been delivering the vaccines; trained pharmacists were approved recently to administer the doses as well.

Those getting vaccinations in this phase are residents and staff of long term care homes, health care workers in direct contact with patients who face an elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors 80 and older, adults 18 and older living in Indigenous communities, residents and staff of shared living facilities (such as group homes, shelters and correctional facilities) and truck drivers and other workers who routinely travel out of the province.

Starting February 22, vaccine clinics in P.E.I. will start giving doses to seniors aged 80 and older. You can find a list of clinics here.

The province says other population groups will be told when they can be vaccinated as the rollout continues. The province expects to have four clinics in operation starting in March — in O’Leary, Summerside, Charlottetown and Montague.

Vaccinations in P.E.I. are by appointment only. When their turns come up, Islanders can book their appointments by calling 1-844-975-3303 or by filling out a form available through this government website.

For more information about Prince Edward Island’s vaccination plan, go here.

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia’s vaccination effort is in Phase 1. That covers those who work directly with patients in hospitals or care homes, people who live and work in long term care homes and people who live and work in adult residential care centres and regional rehabilitation centres.

There’s no word yet on when the next phase of the vaccine rollout will begin. When it does, it will include: anyone who works in a hospital (and might come into contact with patients); doctors, nurses, dentists, dental hygienists and pharmacists; people who live in correctional facilities, shelters and temporary foreign worker housing; people who are required to travel regularly for work (such as truck drivers); people responsible for food security (such as workers in large food processing plants); those aged 75 to 79 and those 80 and older.

Alvena Poole, 83, receives her vaccine from Allison Milley, a nurse at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, on Feb. 22, 2021. (Communications Nova Scotia)

N.S. Public Health is holding prototype clinics before deploying vaccines across the province.

The first prototype clinic — for seniors 80 years and older — opened at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax starting the week of Feb. 22. 

More clinics will open in the coming weeks: in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro on March 8; in Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth on March 15, and in Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth on March 22.

The province also is planning to set up clinics in pharmacies as well.

Those at the head of the queue will receive letters from the province explaining how to schedule a vaccination appointment.

Once contacted, appointments can then be booked online or by calling 1-833-797-7772 the week before the clinic opens.

For more information about Nova Scotia’s vaccination plan, go here.

Newfoundland & Labrador

Newfoundland & Labrador is in Phase 1 of its immunization plan. Doses in this first phase are earmarked for congregate living settings for seniors, health care workers at high risk of exposure to COVID-19, people 85 and older and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities.

It’s not known yet when the next phase of the province’s vaccination plan will begin. That phase will cover health care workers who were not included in Phase 1, residents and staff of all other congregate living settings and essential workers. These categories are still being defined by the province and its health department says details of future phases are still being finalized.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald smiles at St. John’s public health nurse Ellen Foley-Vick after giving her the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in St. John’s, Nfld., on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. (Sarah Smellie/The Canadian Press)

For more information about Newfoundland & Labrador’s vaccination plan, go here.

Yukon

Priority groups in Yukon have received their first doses and, in some cases, their second doses as well.

As of Feb. 19, high-risk health care workers and long-term care residents and staff had received their second doses.

Those living in remote rural communities and people aged 65 and older are to start getting their second doses beginning the week of Feb. 22.

Over the past few weeks, every community outside Whitehorse has been visited by one of two mobile vaccine clinic teams (named ‘Balto’ and ‘Togo’) delivering first doses to all residents 18 and over.

In Whitehorse, a mass clinic will open on March 1 that will deliver up to 800 immunizations a day — both first and second doses.

All Whitehorse residents 18 years of age and older can now book appointments for their first shots.

Those living in Whitehorse must book appointments online or by calling 1-877-374-0425. In rural Yukon, where internet access may be an issue, appointments are recommended but walk-ins are also welcome.

For more information about Yukon’s vaccination plan, go here.

Northwest Territories

All NWT long-term care residents have received first and second doses. The NWT COVID-19 vaccine strategy says the general population can expect access to the vaccine in late March or early April.

The original NWT strategy said there would be enough doses to immunize 75 per cent of eligible residents 18 years of age and older should by the end of March. That target date has now been put off to the end of April.

“This generous initial allocation from the federal government recognizes the territories’ limited health care system capacities and the vulnerabilities of remote Indigenous communities,” says the strategy document.

The vaccine schedule and booking tool are now online and will be updated as more doses are delivered.

Dr. AnneMarie Pegg, territorial medical director, receives her first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Stanton Territorial Hospital on Jan. 10. (Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority)

Those living in larger centres are expected to call or book online for their vaccinations. In smaller communities, dates and locations for vaccination clinics will be advertised and residents will be asked to show up.

Multiple small mobile vaccine units are travelling to 33 communities to help local health care staff administer doses.

For more information on NWT’s vaccination plan, go here.

Nunavut

Nunavut says it expects to have 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18 vaccinated by the end of March.

Grateful for my 2nd #COVID19 vaccine & hopeful as we prepare to rollout more clinics across Nunavut. If you’re able to get the vaccine and haven’t already, please make an appointment! It’s up to all of us to protect ourselves and one another. I’m all in. Can we count on you? pic.twitter.com/Skj2tto1kS

@JSavikataaq

Nunavut is only using the Moderna vaccine right now and has been staging vaccine clinics in two or three communities at a time.

Starting March 1, the next round of clinics to administer the first dose will be held in five communities.  

Starting around March 5 and March 6, nine locations will start holding clinics for the second dose of the vaccine. 

In Iqaluit, vaccinations are by appointment only and are being directed toward elders 60 or older, those living in community shelters, front line health workers, Medivac flight crews, residents and staff of group homes and Iqaluit’s Akaausisarvik Mental Health Treatment Centre, and residents and staff of correctional facilities.

The next phase in Iqaluit is expected to begin March 1 and will be for people age 45 and over.

Nunavut relays COVID-19 information through public service announcements on TV, social media, community radio and the government’s website. The website shows the locations of clinics, their times of operation and contact information.