The first 1,950 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will arrive next week with administration starting on Wednesday.
Immunization will start with priority groups, says P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison.
“I didn’t think we would be able to start administering vaccine in this province in December,” Morrison said at a news briefing Thursday.
Health Canada approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine earlier this week.
“This is a big decision, and a turning point I believe, in our journey with COVID-19,” Morrison said.
The first shipment of the vaccine will be used to immunize front-line health-care workers and long-term care staff who work directly with patients, Morrison said.
“Everyone on P.E.I. will have a chance to be vaccinated, but it will take some time,” she said.
“Every province, not just P.E.I., will be getting vaccines in small amounts.”
Ready for shipments
P.E.I. plans to roll out the vaccine across the province based on recommendations by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization — which will highlight the groups that take priority, Morrison said.
“Our system is fully prepared to receive, administer, record and report on vaccine as soon as it arrives in the province,” Morrison said.
“We have received support from representatives from the Canadian Armed Forces who have expertise in logistics and planning.”
Immunizing priority populations first and doing so early will benefit everyone in the province, Morrison said.
“I would like to see over time P.E.I. achieve 75 to 80 per cent uptake of the vaccine. And if we can, this will protect all of us, and those that may not be able to be immunized,” Morrison said.
“This will allow all of us to maybe live a little differently at some point in 2021.”
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is taken in two doses.
“Meaning a booster dose is required 21 days after the first immunization,” Morrison said, adding it takes at least seven days after the second shot for someone to be protected.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has to be stored under –60 C, special freezers are required and it can’t easily be moved around.
More of that vaccine will arrive by the end of December, and shipments are expected to come regularly each week for the foreseeable future, Morrison said.
The Moderna vaccine — which is still not approved by Health Canada — will come in about a month, Morrison said.
“This is a vaccine that can be shipped much more easily out to different locations and the intention would be to move quickly to long-term care residents.”
Reminder about symptoms
The symptoms of COVID-19 can include:
- Cough or worsening of a previous cough.
- Possible loss of taste and/or smell.
- Sore throat.
- New or worsening fatigue.
- Shortness of breath.
- Runny nose.