As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks.
Also, the federal government said it will continue to include the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in its inoculation program, even as more European countries suspend its use over concerns it could cause blood clots.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said Health Canada regulators are constantly analyzing all the available information about vaccines and have guaranteed those approved in Canada are safe for use. He added none of the AstraZeneca doses Canada has received are from the batch linked to possible side-effects reported in Europe.
Here’s a list of the inoculation plans throughout Canada:
Newfoundland and Labrador
The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of “advanced age” and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority.
Newfoundland and Labrador announced March 3 it was extending the interval between the first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to four months.
Public health officials said the change will help them vaccinate 40,000 more people with a single dose by the end of March. Liberal Leader and incumbent Premier Andrew Furey said the decision is a game changer for the province’s vaccination prospects.
Health officials in Nova Scotia announced March 2 that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province’s first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics launched in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, and will then start in Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23.
Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021.
Health officials said March 3 the upcoming shipment must be used by April 2 and, therefore, all 13,000 doses will be administered to residents across the province aged 50 to 64 years starting March 15.
The vaccine will be given out at 26 locations in Nova Scotia on a first come, first served basis.
Prince Edward Island
Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some.
Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be.
The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March.
The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees.
The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots.
Quebec started vaccinating older seniors March 1, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city.
COVID-19 vaccination appointments opened March 10 for residents aged 70 and older across Quebec.
Vaccines had previously only been accessible to people as young as 70 in Montreal and its northern suburb of Laval. Health Minister Christian Dube has said the arrival of more vaccine shipments could allow the government to open vaccination to people aged 65 and older in the Montreal area this week.
Premier Francois Legault told reporters this week his hope is that once those over 65 are vaccinated, more health orders could be relaxed, including the ban on indoor private gatherings. Legault says seniors aged 65 and older have accounted for 80 per cent of hospitalizations and 95 per cent of deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Quebec.
Ontario stepped up its COVID-19 immunization campaign on March 15, rolling out an online vaccine booking portal and call centre. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older.
Ontario has focused its initial vaccine effort on those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, some health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings.
It has said the rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. Several regions in Ontario have moved ahead with their plans to vaccinate the general public using their own booking systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments.
The province has also said it will extend the interval between doses of COVID-19 vaccines to up to four months.
Toronto began vaccinating police force members who respond to emergency calls on March 1 and has also started offering vaccines to people experiencing homelessness.
The province has said the recently approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will go to residents between the ages of 60 and 64.
A pilot project began Friday at more than 300 pharmacies in Toronto, Kingston and Windsor to give the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot to those aged 60 to 64.
Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people aged 77 and older and First Nation people aged 57 and older. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months.
Eligibility has been expanded to include nearly all health-care workers, including those who do not provide direct patient care.
All people who work in congregate living facilities are also now able to get vaccinated. Immunization teams are also visiting these facilities to give residents a dose.
Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province’s vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. There are supersites in cities where people can get vaccines and pop-up clinics have begun in rural and northern Manitoba communities for people who are eligible.
Manitoba has already indicated it would opt for a four-month interval between doses.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority says it’s dropping the eligible age for seniors to book COVID-19 vaccination appointments to 80, down from 85.
March 11 was the start of the province’s booking system, announced after people raised concerns about waiting to be contacted by public health to receive their shots. The health authority says about 4,300 appointments were made by phone or online. It was only open to residents 85 and older, but the authority says the age will drop to 80, starting March 12, after a successful first-day rollout.
The province has started vaccinating for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area.
Saskatchewan hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable.
Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce.
Premier Scott Moe has said that people will get their second shot up to four months after the first, which falls in line with a recent recommendation from Canada’s national immunization committee.
Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said the province expects to offer all Albertans aged 18 and over a first dose of vaccine by the end of June.
Shandro said residents aged 65 to 74, and First Nations, Inuit and Metis aged 50-plus, can begin booking March 15. The province had originally not expected to begin this stage of vaccination until April.
The phase started March 15 with anyone born in 1947 and Indigenous people born in 1971. More appointments are being booked by birth year as the week progresses.
In April, the Alberta government aims to start offering the vaccine to people with some chronic health conditions born between 1957 and 2005. That includes people with certain lung, kidney, liver and heart diseases, people treated for cancer in the past year, those with severe mental illness and substance use disorders, and pregnant women.
After that, vaccines will be available more health care workers and people with jobs in certain congregate living settings, such as jails and homeless shelters. Meat plant workers will also qualify in this phase.
Alberta has also said it will follow other provinces by extending the time between the first dose and the second to four months.
British Columbia will use its initial shipment of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to inoculate front-line workers in industries where there have been outbreaks because the use of personal protective equipment is difficult, or because employees live together.
The highest-risk work categories were identified by a task force last November and include sites where poultry, fruit and fish are processed, as well as large industrial camps.
The province’s age-based vaccination plan is one week ahead of schedule. People aged 84 and older, plus Indigenous elders 65 and up, are able to book appointments for a shot.
The Health Ministry says people aged 83 and older can make a vaccination appointment starting on March 16. The age eligibility drops daily, so anyone 80 and up can arrange their vaccination by the end of the week.
The province also opened vaccination clinics across B.C. on March 15 for Indigenous elders and seniors over 90 who had appointments.
Clinics also began in Prince Rupert and Port Edward, where all adults are being immunized regardless of age, because of high infection rates in the northwestern region of the province.
The government has also extended the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18.
After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose.
Nunavut’s priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff.
The Northwest Territories says it expects to finish its vaccine rollout by the end of April. It also expects to receive enough doses of the Moderna vaccine by the end of March to inoculate 75 per cent of the adult population.
All 33 communities in the territory have received at least one dose of the Moderna vaccine.
All eligible adults can book an appointment to get vaccinated.
Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March.
Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 16, 2021.
The Canadian Press