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Federal government has plan to deal with vaccine reactions: Trudeau

Friday, December 11, 2020 @ 10:58 AM | By Terry Davidson

Ottawa is setting up supports to deal with any adverse reactions people may have to the COVID-19 vaccine — the first batch of which is expected to arrive Dec. 14.

On Dec. 10, as part of a late afternoon news conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the launch of his government’s “vaccine injury support program.” The news came the day after it was announced Health Canada had approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use on Canadians.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

“Vaccines are safe and effective; serious side effects are incredibly rare,” said Trudeau. “In the very unlikely event of an adverse reaction, though, we want to make sure that Canadians have fair access to support. So, today, I can announce that we’re creating a federal support program around vaccine safety for all Canadians and for all vaccines.”

Trudeau said the program is based on a long-standing model in Quebec, and that his national program “follows the lead of all other G7 countries.”

The U.S.-based Pfizer, one of seven drug makers in deals to supply Canada with vaccines, is expected to deliver a total of 76 million doses. With its vaccine now having been approved, the drug manufacturer will be sending an early shipment of 249,000 doses in a series of batches before the year is out.  

The vaccine will be given to people in two injections, with this early batch reportedly being enough to vaccinate 124,000 Canadians. The shipments will be sent to 14 distribution centres set up across the country.

The first batch of 30,000 doses is expected to arrive on Dec. 14, according to Canadian Armed Forces Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is quarterbacking the rollout.

“The provinces have indicated that they are ready,” said Fortin. “They have the infrastructure, the training materials, the supplies and processes in place to receive the first shipments of Pfizer vaccines and begin immunizations at the initial 14 points of use.”

It has been reported the vaccine will be shipped from Belgium but routed through the U.S. before arriving in Canada. With this, Trudeau was asked if he is concerned about U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America first” approach potentially interfering with Canada’s shipments.

“I can reassure Canadians that the contracts we signed with seven different potential vaccine makers for more doses … are very strong and will be respected,” said Trudeau, insisting he has “no concerns about interference of shipments of vaccines to Canada.”

The vaccine will be administered on a priority basis to those deemed by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization to be the most vulnerable — those being residents and workers in long-term care homes and related health facilities, people over 80, health-care workers and adults in Indigenous communities.

According to the federal government, clinical trials carried out by Pfizer on 44,000 people found the vaccine to be 95 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 “beginning one week after the second dose.”

On Dec. 8, the U.K. became the first western country to begin vaccinating its citizens. Shortly after that, officials there began looking into allergic reactions suffered by two people given the shot.

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