Canada begins coronavirus vaccine rollout. Here are the provinces' plans

WATCH: Front-line workers at Toronto long-term care home 1st to receive COVID-19 vaccinations in Ontario.

Editor’s Note: The Canadian Press previously reported that Canada’s first COVID-19 vaccine was administered in Toronto. However, the first shots were administered in Quebec City and Toronto within half an hour of each other, creating confusion about which province could lay claim to being the first in the country.

A resident of a long-term care home in Quebec City was the first person in Canada to receive a dose of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine Monday.

This comes after the first batch of vaccines officially arrived in Canada Sunday evening, prompting provinces to prepare to inoculate their most vulnerable populations this week.

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The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved by Health Canada last week, as cases continue to spike across the country — with 460,743 total cases and 13,431 deaths as of Sunday evening.

Ontario and Quebec, two of the hardest-hit provinces, administered the first shots Monday afternoon

Here is how the provinces and territories plan on administering the vaccine this week.

Ontario and Quebec

Quebec was the first to dole out the COVID-19 vaccine.

Premier Francois Legault announced Monday on Twitter that Gisele Levesque had received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at the Saint-Antoine residence.

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Health officials said they would today begin vaccinating residents and staff at the Quebec City residence and at the Maimonides Geriatric Centre in Montreal after receiving a shipment of the vaccine Sunday night.

Health Minister Christian Dube said the province plans to give its first doses of the Pfizer vaccine to about 2,000 people in long-term care homes in Montreal and Quebec City.

During the first wave of the pandemic, the virus killed nearly 6,000 residents in nursing and retirement facilities, accounting for more than 80 per cent of Canada’s COVID-19 deaths.

Maimonides Geriatric Centre had 15 deaths in an outbreak this fall, according to government data. Close to 300 of the facility’s 327 residents should be vaccinated over the course of a week, depending on their health, said Lucie Tremblay, director of nursing for the network that manages Maimonides.

Quebec says the next groups in line to be vaccinated are people living in private seniors residences, followed by residents of isolated communities and then anyone aged 80 and over.

Dube said Quebec also expects to receive enough Pfizer vaccines between Dec. 21 and Jan. 4 to vaccinate 22,000 to 28,000 people.

Ontario began giving out the first batch of vaccines on Monday to three personal support workers, a registered nurse, and a registered practical nurse who work at the Rekai Centre nursing home in Toronto.

The province received 6,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Sunday night and plans to give them to approximately 2,500 health-care workers.

Half the shots will be administered this week and the other half will be intentionally held back to give the same workers a required second dose 21 days later.

An additional 90,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to arrive later this month and are to be provided to 14 hospitals in COVID-19 hot spots.

Atlantic provinces

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey said he anticipates receiving 1,950 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s this week. He added that the province expects another shipment of the vaccine later in the month.

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P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said the province plans to begin by administering the Pfizer vaccine this week.

The vaccine will be administered to priority groups, including residents and staff of long-term care homes, health-care workers and adults in Indigenous communities.

Morrison said she expects to receive 1,950 doses in the first shipment, and the clinic will have to be held at the storage location because the Pfizer vaccine must be kept frozen.

In New Brunswick, 1,950 doses are expected to arrive this week. The first vaccine administration is set to take place in Mirachimi, a city northeast of Fredericton. The vaccines will be distributed at the Miramichi Hospital, which has an ultralow-temperature freezer to store the vaccine, on Dec. 19 and 20.

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The province said the first recipients will get their required second shot of the Pfizer vaccine on Jan. 9 and Jan. 10, 2021.

Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health said the province will also receive 1,950 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine for an initial test run beginning Tuesday.

Dr. Robert Strang said the first doses will be used to immunize front-line health workers in the Halifax area who are most directly involved in the pandemic response.

Strang said because the vaccine has specific handling requirements, Pfizer has stipulated that the initial round of immunizations take place near where the doses are stored.

Nova Scotia has one ultralow-temperature freezer to store the vaccine at the tertiary care teaching complex at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre.

Strang said the province is getting another freezer through Ottawa that will operate out of a central depot for vaccines at the public health office in Halifax. The province is also looking at securing freezers from the private sector.

The Prairies

Manitoba expects to administer its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said some 900 health-care workers in critical care units will be the first to receive the vaccine after doses start to arrive.

The province has set up appointments that will take place from Wednesday to Friday, on a first-come, first-serve basis at the University of Manitoba’s Rady Health campus on McDermot Avenue.

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As more shipments come in, priority will be given to other health-care workers, seniors and Indigenous people.

The province hopes to vaccinate more than 100,000 people by March — that’s roughly seven per cent of Manitoba’s population.

Officials said they’ve been setting up a large-scale “supersite” to deliver the vaccine.

Saskatchewan plans to start immunizing critical health-care workers against COVID-19 in a pilot project this week. Premier Scott Moe said the province expects to receive 1,950 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine by Tuesday.

The initial pilot program for the vaccine will target health-care workers in ICUs, emergency departments and COVID-19 units at Regina General and Pasqua hospitals and staff at testing and assessment centres, officials said.

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The first official stage of Saskatchewan’s vaccination program will be in late December when the province receives more doses. It will target more health-care workers, staff and residents in long-term care, seniors over 80 and people in remote areas who are at least 50.

Some 202,052 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to arrive within the first quarter of next year, and there are to be 10,725 weekly allocations.

Moe said vaccinations for the general population is expected to begin in April.


Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro said the first Pfizer vaccinations will begin Wednesday, focusing on two hospitals in Edmonton and two in Calgary.

There will be 3,900 doses going to intensive care doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and care-home workers, he said.

Shandro said the vaccine must be administered at its delivery site, so it can’t go to care homes.

The second batch of the vaccine is expected later this month.

The province said it eventually plans to roll out the vaccine from 30 different locations.

British Columbia

British Columbia’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said the province will start its immunization program this week with 4,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Because the Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at ultracold temperatures, officials will bring people to the vaccine instead of the vaccine to the people, she previously said.

Henry said workers in long-term care facilities will be the first to get the doses starting this week.

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She expects about 400,000 residents to be vaccinated by March.

Those recipients are to be health-care workers, people over 80, vulnerable populations, and front-line workers, including teachers and grocery workers.


Nunavut’s premier said the territory will get the vaccine made by Moderna in the first quarter of 2021.

Joe Savikataaq says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has told him Nunavut will get enough doses to vaccinate 75 per cent of the population.

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Chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson says Nunavut will prioritize elders and health-care workers first for the vaccine.

The premier of the Northwest Territories said N.W.T. will receive 51,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine in the new year.

Like Nunavut, that’s enough to vaccinate 75 per cent of the population ages 18 and up.

The territory is creating a vaccine team made up of nurses and support staff to travel to smaller communities.

Health Minister Julie Green said two specialized freezers for storing the vaccines are on their way from the federal government and will be placed in Yellowknife and Inuvik.

Smaller, portable freezers are also on the way and will be placed in smaller communities.

Yukon also said it will get enough of the Moderna vaccine by spring to vaccinate 75 per cent of its residents.

A statement from the Yukon government said the territory’s allocation is in recognition of its large Indigenous populations and remote communities.

— with files from the Canadian Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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