P.E.I. aiming to start COVID-19 vaccinations in early 2021

·2 min read

In wake of promising news from Pfizer this week about its COVID-19 vaccine trials, the P.E.I. government is making plans to be vaccinating Islanders early next year.

"The prospect of a vaccine gives us much hope and is really a beacon of light for us all," said P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison at her regular, weekly pandemic briefing Tuesday.

"If you'd asked me in April I wouldn't have predicted that we'd have vaccine available in early 2021."

On Monday, Pfizer released interim results from its Phase 3 clinical trial, which is still ongoing. It suggested the vaccine may be 90 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19 caused by the coronavirus.

The vaccine is still a long way from approval. The preliminary results looked at infections just seven days after volunteers had received a second dose. The vaccine is one of a number pre-ordered by the federal government.

When the clinic trials are completed the data will be provided to Health Canada, which will assess that data before any vaccine is approved for Canadians. Even with approved vaccines, said Morrison, there will still be a lot of work to do before the pandemic can be said to be over.

"In the beginning there will be a very limited supply of vaccine," she said.

"It will take many months for the vaccine manufacturers to make enough doses of vaccine to offer everyone the opportunity to be immunized."

Priority groups

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has already made some recommendations on who should get the vaccine first, said Morrison.

The list includes front-line health care workers, vulnerable populations, such as people over the age of 70, and those who live and work in conditions that put them at increased risk.

"Even within the priority groups there will not be enough vaccine right away," Morrison said.

The province and the federal government are already working on the logistics of distributing the vaccine, she said. For the Pfizer vaccine, that will mean storing it at -75 C.

While production and distribution will take some time, Morrison said eventually everyone will have the opportunity to be immunized, and that the vaccine would be provided free of charge.

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