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Editorial: Accelerated jabs

After a frustrating February of lagging behind other countries, Canada has continued to see good news on the COVID-19 vaccination front trickle in this month.

After a frustrating February of lagging behind other countries, Canada has continued to see good news on the COVID-19 vaccination front trickle in this month. 

On March 5, Health Canada announced the approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine – the fourth approved vaccine, following earlier approvals of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the Moderna vaccine and the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine. Canada has ordered 10 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson jabs, with the ability to order up to 28 million more.

While the Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not have as high an efficacy rate as the Moderna or Pfizer options, according to a CBC report, it is the first vaccine that only requires a single dosage to be effective. Plus, it does not come with the same stringent cold-temperature storage requirements as other vaccines, which means it can be kept for long periods of time at temperatures ranging from 2 C to 8 C.

On the same day as the approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Primer Minister Justin Trudeau announced Pfizer has agreed to deliver up to 3.5 million doses of its vaccine to Canada in the next three months. The doses were originally scheduled to arrive in the summer.

Considering a more regional focus, on March 8, Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced the provincial government would be accelerating its vaccination rollout program. He said the next group of eligible Albertans – residents born in 1957, as well as First Nations, Métis and Inuit residents born in 197 – were able able to book their immunization appointments starting March 10.

As Shandro recently noted at a separate press conference, the government’s goal is to administer a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to anyone who wants one by the end of June. Less than two months ago, that milestone would have seemed highly implausible.

Hopefully, supply shortages are a thing of the past and Albertans will be able to receive their jabs sooner rather than later.