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Head of Canada's vaccine distribution defends premiers in midst of criticism over sluggish rollout

Last Updated Apr 8, 2021 at 2:00 pm EDT

As premiers face questions about the speed of administering COVID-19 vaccines, the head of Canada’s vaccine distribution is backing up the provinces.

So far, 10.5-million vaccines have been delivered to provinces and territories but only 7-million have been applied into the arms of Canadians.

The gap has prompted a lot of questions and criticisms for some provincial governments as we see rising COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations.

But Major Gen. Dany Fortin, who is in charge of the logistics of vaccine deliveries to the provinces, is defending the premiers saying they are not dragging their feet.

“Provinces and territories are doing their best to administer as rapidly and as effectively as possible vaccines to Canadians throughout the country, full stop,” said Fortin on Thursday.

He adds the delivery systems can be complex and it could take a few days to roll out doses after they have been received.

Through April, Canada is expecting to receive at least another 5.3-million doses of vaccines and by the end of June, we should have more than 44-million in total.

RELATED: Ontario bracing for 1.5M doses of Pfizer vaccine by end of April, Moderna shipment delayed

Major Gen. Fortin says there is a chance we can speed up our deadline of fully vaccinating all Canadians that want a shot by the end of September but admits that depends on several different factors.

In mid-March, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Pfizer has guaranteed delivery of at least 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses per week lasting into early May.

Meantime, the international vaccine-sharing program known as COVAX says it has reached 100 countries with vaccines as of today, but many of the world’s poorest nations have still not been able to receive a single dose.

Fortin says Canada, which has been widely criticized for taking doses from COVAX even though that’s how the program was designed, received its first doses from the program this morning.

“The COVAX shipment of approximately 317,000 doses of AstraZeneca arrived this morning in Canada,” said Fortin. “Distribution across the country has started already this morning and is expected to be completed tomorrow [Friday].”

COVAX is the main, if not only, supply of vaccines for more than 60 low-and middle-income nations that have received doses.

But about 30 other modest-income countries are still waiting, some because they are not yet ready to start vaccinations.

With files from The Canadian Press

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