New tool estimates when Canadians can get a COVID-19 vaccine

Jan 14 2021, 6:47 pm

As COVID-19 vaccines roll out across Canada, many are wondering when their turn is to get immunized.

A new online tool, co-created by a Canadian researcher, can help answer that question.

By inputting a few points of information, such as your age and whether you’re a healthcare worker, the aptly named Vaccine Queue Calculator provides a rough estimate of how far down the line someone is in Canada’s COVID three-stage vaccine distribution plan.

“I think that most of us are wishing that the virus would just disappear, but in reality, it’s going to take time to get us all vaccinated,” said Jasmine Mah, one of the calculator’s creators.

“That was one of the major motivators for this calculator, giving people a realistic timeline and comfort knowing that the end is in sight even if it’s still months away.”

For example, there are at least 11.7 million people, and up to 22.4 million people, who need to be vaccinated before a 26-year-old who doesn’t meet any of the calculator’s risk factors can get immunized.

They’d be in stage 3 of the vaccine rollout and can expect to be vaccinated between early July mid-September 2021, according to the calculator.

A 35-year-old who works in a care home may only have up to 5 million people ahead of them in the queue. As they would be in stage 1, they could expect to be vaccinated between early February and late May.

Mah said that none of the information entered into the calculator is saved and that the user’s privacy is protected.

A web content developer at Omni Calculator and a recent master’s grad from the University of Guelph, Mah created the tool along with her colleague, Steve Wooding.

The researchers based the tool off of the federal government’s priority guidance on vaccine distribution, Mah said, which describes three stages of vaccination.

It operates under the premise that every part of the rollout goes according to plan, including that all of the various vaccine candidates pass their clinical trials and get approved by Health Canada.

Knowing that not every Canadian will choose to get immunized, the calculator takes a vaccine uptake of 70.3% into account.

The response to the Vaccine Queue Calculator has been overwhelmingly positive, Mah said, and that it has been viewed over a million times since its launch on January 7.

Given the site’s popularity, Mah knows the responsibility she holds to give people accurate and up-to-date information on vaccines, but notes that the tool predicts a “best-case scenario” target for immunization.

It is not affiliated with the Public Health Agency of Canada, she said.

Canada has deals with seven manufacturers to procure up to 194 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Health officials have the option to purchase an additional 220 million doses if need be.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that every Canadian who wants to be vaccinated will be able to do so by September 2021.

“We need to keep the long game in mind,” Mah said. “While the most vulnerable need to be protected immediately, we can’t let our guard down as a community until we get widespread immunity.”

“The end is in sight but still a ways to go.”

To date, Canada has seen 681,328 COVID-19 cases and 17,383 virus-related deaths.

Zoe DemarcoZoe Demarco

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