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Health Canada approves Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

CBC Canada is reporting that public health and government officials will hold a briefing to discuss details of the vaccine rollout plan at 1 p.m. ET today in Ottawa. Health officials have already set in motion plans for the administration of the vaccines after they arrive next week.

Canada’s approval of the vaccine was based on a new interim order system that allows for accelerated approval very similar to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorizations for the vaccine, according to The Jerusalem Post.

The vaccines will be administered at 14 delivery sites in major cities across Canada, within one or two days of the shipments arriving. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Monday that by the end of December, Canada is set to receive up to 249,000 doses of this vaccine.

There will be enough vaccine in this first shipment to vaccinate 124,500 people, given it requires two shots a few weeks apart. Major General Dany Fortin, the top military general leading the rollout from the Public Health Agency of Canada, is expecting a “constant flow” of doses to arrive — up to four million by the end of March 2021, according to CTV Canada.

because the vaccine needs to be stored at temperatures below -70 Celsius, the vaccine will arrive in special thermal shipping boxes developed by Pfizer that can keep the vaccine stable for days. Before being injected, the vaccine needs to be thawed, decanted, and mixed.

But after being thawed, the vaccine can only last a few hours at room temperature, so Pfizer is requesting the first doses be given on-site at these 14 facilities where there are ultra-cold freezers in place, to avoid as much wastage as possible from transporting the vials elsewhere.

Pfizer was one of four vaccine candidates Health Canada has been evaluating, with assessment ongoing for the Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines

COVID-19 vaccines will be offered to Canadians free of charge, will not be mandatory, and will eventually be available to all who want to be vaccinated. The government has said its target is to vaccinate the majority of Canadians by September, 2021.

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