There have been major developments in the fight against COVID-19, but it is far from over as Canada started this week to distribute the first vaccine doses across the country.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine approved by Health Canada on Dec. 6 started going out to workers at nursing homes in Quebec and Ontario on Monday, nine months after lockdowns began in the spring.
“This is good news,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote in a Twitter post announcing the vaccines had arrived Sunday night.
“But our fight against COVID-19 is not over,” he added, encouraging Canadians to continue to be vigilant by wearing masks, washing hands and using the virus phone alert app.
The first person to be vaccinated was Anita Quidangan, a personal support worker in Ontario. Later on Monday, vaccinations started in Quebec where 89-year-old Gisèle Lévesque, a former bank employee in Saint-Antoine, was first in line.
More than 60 per cent of Canada’s 13,400 coronavirus deaths have been in nursing and seniors homes, pushing staff at those facilities to the front of the vaccine line.
Canada is the third nation worldwide to launch inoculations of Pfizer’s vaccine. The United States also started injections on Monday with frontline workers in New York.
Humber College student Harrison Smith, who is in his second year of Film and Television production, said he will take the vaccine, but not as soon as possible.
“I’m young, healthy and have no known pre-existing conditions so I’m not a priority person to protect,” the 24-year-old told Et Cetera. “I’ll get it, I just won’t move mountains or re-arrange an entire schedule around it.”
While Smith may be among the majority of Canadians who want to take the vaccine at some point, as indicated in an Ipsos-Radio Canada survey, there are some that vow they will avoid the injections, known as “anti-vaxxers.”
The survey found about 16 per cent of Canadians plan not to take the vaccine, which health experts say could hinder efforts to create herd immunity.
Smith said he was disappointed in the poll’s findings and the unfounded reasons for refusing vaccination.
“Take your doomsday conspiracy theories elsewhere, if the government really wanted to track or control people they’d just do something with our technology,” the North Campus student said.
The Trudeau government has also ordered 168,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine by the end of the year, pending Health Canada’s approval. Moderna’s product could start shipping within 48 hours of receiving authorization.
Trudeau said in a City TV interview on Wednesday the reason his government ordered so much of the vaccine was because of lessons learned earlier in the year when there were personal protective equipment shortages.
“There’s lots of things we’ve learned, but one of the things we learned through the scramble on PPE was to be early on vaccines,” he said.