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Canada administers first doses of Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine

Five frontline workers in Ontario were among the first Canadians to receive the vaccine.

Tamara Dus administers the first Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Ontario, Canada.
Tamara Dus administers the first Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Ontario, Canada.
Image: Frank Gunn

CANADA ADMINISTERED ITS first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine yesterday, becoming one of the first countries to do so.

Five frontline workers in Ontario were among the first Canadians to receive the vaccine at one of Toronto’s hospitals.

Anita Quidangen, a personal support worker who carried out her job throughout a Covid-19 outbreak at a nursing home in Toronto, got the first dose in Ontario.

“It’s an honour, thank you very much,” she said. 

A major black mark in Canada has been the death of older people in long-term care and retirement residences. More than 8,460 of Canada’s 13,430 deaths have occurred there.

Quebec announced that a long-term care resident in that province’s capital had been injected with the vaccine at 11.25 am local time, making her the first in Canada to receive the jab.

“It was very emotional for me,” said federal health minister Patty Hajdu, who witnessed it in Quebec.

“I cried.”

The Canadian government recently amended its contract with Pfizer and BioNTech so that it would deliver up to 249,000 doses this month. But most Canadians are not expected to get the vaccine for months.

“We are dealing with an incredibly competitive global environment,” said Anita Anand, Canada’s minister of public services and procurement.

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“It’s very much the long game here.”

Canada has contracts with six other vaccine makers and is currently reviewing three other vaccines, including one by Moderna that Canadian health officials said could be approved in the country soon.

Canada has ordered more doses than needed for Canadians, 10 doses per Canadian according to the government. Canada eventually plans to donate excess supply to impoverished countries.

Overall, there have been more than 460,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases in Canada since the pandemic began, a stark contrast to the US which is recording almost half that number each day.

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