Canada’s territories will have enough doses to fully vaccinate 75 percent of their adult population against coronavirus “by the end of March,” Home Services Minister Marc Miller said Wednesday.
Coronavirus Vaccines Arrive in Distant First Nations Across Canada
Chief Medical Officer of Public Health Dr. Tom Wong added that this figure refers to both doses, which means that by the end of the first quarter, the territories will have enough doses to provide both injections of the two-stroke regimen.
Indigenous communities affected by COVID-19
The comments come after a government announcement that Canada has provided another 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, bringing Canada’s total supply of vaccines by 2021 to 80 million doses, which is more doses than would be required to vaccinate each single person living in Canada
But not all those doses have the same storage requirements. The Pfizer vaccine requires ultra-cold storage of -70 C, making it difficult to transport and store in Canada in northern and remote regions. The Modern vaccine, however, is much easier to transport and store in the north. While it also requires cold storage, the temperature needed to avoid spoilage is only -15 to -25 C.
The government has announced its intention to set additional Moderna doses for the northern regions due to this logistical consideration. Now, with enough doses set to be distributed in the territories to inoculate 75 percent of the adult population by Mars, the spread is set to shift to higher gears.
The logistics of a COVID-19 vaccine is a complex undertaking and requires coordination between partners and provinces and territories, Miller said.
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Efficient and effective dissemination requires co-planning and depends on full cooperation and partnership.
Coronavirus: Canada must do everything we can to protect indigenous communities from COVID-19, official says
In light of logistical challenges, the federal government announced on Wednesday its intention to provide additional funding to paint the spread wheels. Miller said the government has set aside $ 1.2 billion in funding from the fall economic statement for indigenous communities responding to COVID-19.
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He said that means over $ 4.2 billion has been announced since March to support indigenous communities in the fight against the pandemic.
However, there are additional challenges involved in the Indigenous response to COVID-19 that cannot necessarily be addressed with funding.
History has left behind a legacy of broken trust between Indigenous communities and Canada’s healthcare systems. In the 1940s, the government conducted a series of unethical experiments on indigenous children without consent depriving malnourished children of proper nutrition to see what the effects would be.
Coronavirus: Feds provide additional support to indigenous communities between outbreaks
This kind of racism is not found only in history. In September, an Atikamekw woman recorded her last moments at a hospital in Quebec, where she experienced what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called “the worst form of racism.”
For over seven minutes, 37-year-old Joyce Echaquan could be heard calling for help from nurses who, instead of comforting her, denigrated her with racist insults. She died a little later.
Joyce Echaquan’s death highlights systemic racism in healthcare, experts say
Miller acknowledged the impact these racist incidents could have on trust between indigenous peoples and health care providers.
We recognize that the First Nations, Inuit and Metis have historically endured and continue to endure systematic racism and discrimination when seeking health care, resulting in distrust of the health care system in Canada, Miller said.
We also know that Indigenous people, no matter where they live, experience a high burden of disease and are at a higher risk for COVID-19 complications.
However, as the vaccine began to spread to indigenous communities, Miller said the response has been extremely positive and receptive. Elders are essential in falsifying the trust, he added, as younger adults who see their grandparents get the vaccine safely are more likely to get it themselves.
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Meanwhile, while thousands of doses have been delivered to the territories, they have only just begun to go to arms.
Of the 20,400 doses of Modern vaccine distributed in the territories, just over 1,000 have been administered, according to unofficial Canada vaccine tracker. The territories are home to over 126,000 people.
I want things to happen in real time, and they can not happen fast enough, Miller said.
They are growing as fast as they can and were there to support them.
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