Alberta will be stuck waiting even longer for more doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
The federal government has communicated the province’s vaccine allocations will be slashed again, Health Minister Tyler Shandro said Thursday.
“This morning, we’ve been told that Alberta will receive 63,000 fewer vaccines in the first quarter of this year. This means 63,000 more Albertans will not receive this life-saving vaccine,” Shandro said.
“The federal government is failing Canadians. This is a grim situation that seems to be getting worse every week. We know that life for Canadians will not begin returning to something resembling normal until our most vulnerable are immunized.”
Earlier this month, the province was told they would receive a reduction of between 20 to 80 per cent of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine over the next four weeks.
There has also been confusion about the number of doses extracted from each vile.
Immunizers have been drawing six when possible, but often are only able to get five doses from the Pfizer vaccine viles.
Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said that was in part due to the global shortage of the syringe that consistently draws six doses. Even with a one CC syringe, she said they estimate a sixth dose could only be extracted 75 per cent of the time.
Hinshaw added Alberta health Services immunizers have been able to extract the sixth dose about 50 per cent of the time in the Pfizer viles.
Shandro noted that the province has planned on each vile producing five doses.
“We can’t base it on six unless we know that every vile has six and guess what, they don’t,” he said in a press conference Thursday.
Shandro said the province was reassured they would still get 468,000 doses by the end of March. He called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Health Minister Patty Hajdu, and Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand to work harder to fix the issue.
According to the federal government’s vaccine distribution schedule, Alberta has received 122,000 doses of the vaccine, including more than 88,000 of the Pfizer-BioNTech version. That same distribution schedule indicates Alberta was set to get 68,700 doses of the vaccine between Jan. 11 and Feb. 28.
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is in charge of the federal government’s vaccine rollout plan says Pfizer is sending 335,000 doses the week of Feb. 15, which is still only 91 per cent of the previous delivery schedule.
He also noted that Canada is only getting 149,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine over the next two weeks.
Alberta announced Wednesday that the province has administered 101,123 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and more than 11,000 Albertans had received both doses.
-With files from The Canadian Press