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At a press conference on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed Conservative MP Derek Sloan sponsoring an e-petition that suggests the COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed to Canadians without the proper safety protocols, with the petition classifying the immunization as “effectively human experimentation.”
“The work that Health Canada is doing to ensure that every vaccine...is safe for Canadians is uncompromising, there are no corners cut,” Trudeau said.
“It is extremely important that support for scientists and doctors, and health professionals and local public health authorities, continue to be shared and that’s why it behooves every parliamentarian to stand up for science, to support the work of our experts who are working extremely hard to keep Canadians safe.”
Health minister Patty Hajdu also commented on the petition that received Sloan’s support, saying that it is full of “misinformation” and “extremely fear driven.”
“It’s unfortunate to see politicians utilize their power to provide misinformation to Canadians when what Canadians need is clear, concise science-based evidence,” Hajdu said. “This isn’t the first time that we’ve seen this, in particular from the opposition party, but we work as a government to provide credible information in a variety of different ways.
“Vaccine hesitancy is real and certainly, I would hope that elected officials would not contribute to people’s fear of science-based public health advice and guidance.”
The health minister went on to say this is an example of why it is important to have independent health regulators, where “politicians are not the ones making decisions” about the safety of vaccines, or drugs or medical equipment.
Four groups swill be covered by vaccine first
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, spoke about the initial six million doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in early 2021, saying that the amount is “in the range” of what would be needed to cover the four core priority groups, residents and staff of congregate living settings that provide care to seniors, adults 70 years of age and over (beginning with people over the age of 80), healthcare workers and adults in Indigenous communities.
“There’s different assumptions being built in but as a ballpark, these four groups of people...should be covered by the initial doses,” Dr. Tam said. “I just have to caution that given there are so many different parameters and uncertainties, we just have to be prepared for unexpected things to happen, deliveries et cetera.”
“We don’t have a vaccine just yet and we must be prepared to address a range of logistical and operational challenges but one thing is assured, any and all COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada will be required to meet the highest standards of quality, safety and effectiveness by Canada’s rigorous regulatory review process.”
Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, said that from a procurement standpoint, a timeframe of early Q1 2021 is being used for the initial vaccine doses but she is “hopeful” that it will be in the “early January” period.