Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that the federal government will be covering the cost of COVID-19 vaccines for Canadians.
Trudeau told reporters on Thursday that his government would be footing the bill for the incoming immunizations as well as the supplies needed to administer them, rather than the provinces and territories using their funding to pay for the vaccine.
“Doses will be free for Canadians,” the prime minister said.
Health Canada approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate on Wednesday. Trudeau said that 30,000 doses are expected to arrive in Canada in a few days.
Last week, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) identified four key groups that should receive early immunization against COVID-19.
NACI recommends that initial doses of an authorized vaccine go to residents and staff of congregate living settings that provide care for seniors, as well as adults ages 70 and up, starting with those over the age of 80.
Healthcare workers and personal support workers whose profession involves direct contact with patients and adults in Indigenous communities have also been earmarked for early vaccination.
Following reports that the vaccine had caused some allergic reactions in the UK, Trudeau said that the vaccines are “safe and effective” and that serious side affects are “extremely rare.”
However, in the “very unlikely” event that someone has an adverse reaction, the Canadian government wants to ensure that people have access to the support they need.
Trudeau announced the creation of a federal support program on vaccine safety. It will extend to all vaccinations, including all COVID-19 vaccines.
Major General Dany Fortin, the vice president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, said that the Pfizer vaccines are expected to leave the manufacturer on Friday and should arrive in Canada by Monday.
“This is the good news we all needed,” Trudeau said.
Canada has deals with seven manufacturers, including Pfizer, to procure up to 194 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. The option to purchase an additional 220 million is also available.
To date, there have been 435,330 COVID-19 cases and 12,983 deaths across the country.