Canadian Armed Forces to assist with vaccine rollout

PM cagey on when he expects vaccinations to begin

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau | Government of Canada

Ottawa is banking on assistance from the military as part of its efforts to distribute COVID-19 vaccines across one of the world’s largest countries.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed Friday (November 27) the federal government is establishing a national operations centre for vaccine distribution.

The centre will be led by former Canadian NATO commander Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin.

So far, the feds have secured deals with five companies and are working on deals with two other companies producing COVID-19 vaccines, delivering 194 million doses for the country of 38 million.

During a media briefing outside his home in Ottawa, the prime minister said Canada secured a high number of doses because of the potential logistical challenges of relying on only one company. 

Canada does not have manufacturing capacity for the mRNA vaccines — a brand-new form of vaccine — that have been garnering attention in recent weeks for their high rates of efficacy. 

That puts the country further back in the queue for distribution than other countries such as the U.S., the U.K. and Germany.

Trudeau could not provide any definitive timeline for when Canadians should expect to be vaccinated, however, health authorities revealed Thursday that 3 million Canadians should expect to be dosed within the first quarter of 2021.

“I know there’s a lot of focus right now on, when do we reach the starting line?” he said.

“When we do start vaccinating citizens — and certainly we’re working very hard on that — but our perspective from the beginning has been to create the best possible portfolio of vaccine producers so that we maximize our chances of having the right one, getting the one that is delivered quickest properly to Canadians.”

He expects more than half of Canadians should expect to be vaccinated by September 2021

Trudeau also used Friday’s media briefing to announce the government was earmarking $542m to facilitate full jurisdiction for Child and Family Services for Indigenous communities.

torton@biv.com

@reporton