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EDITORIAL: Canada's vaccine rollout blunders failing Canadians

The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines has been a less than smooth experience for many Canadians.
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To say the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines has been a less than smooth experience for many Canadians is an understatement.

Each moment of hope has been tempered when the much-needed vaccines have failed to arrive in provinces, or vaccines already in use have been pulled from shelves.

On Monday (March 29) Canadian provinces, including Alberta, paused the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in people under the age of 55. The decision was based on concerns raised by Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization about a possible link between the shot and rare blood clots being reported in Europe.

The suspension is a hit to the country's vaccine supply, as Canada is running short of doses until new shipments of the Moderna and Pfizer shots arrive.

The Canadian Press reported Moderna was supposed to have shipped around 846,000 vaccines to Canada last week— Unfortunately, only a fraction of these precious doses were delivered due to what the company and federal government described as a backlog in its "quality-assurance testing."

The loss of these vaccines is being felt in Cochrane— Pharmacies that have been designated to deliver doses have already run out of allocated vaccines and there is no clear indication of when new shipments will arrive.

As of now, Canada is lagging behind many other countries in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout— As of March 20, the Government of Canada reported 9.18 per cent of Canadians had received at least one dose of the vaccine, this includes 1.66 per cent of people who have received two doses.

The Washington Post reported 28.9 per cent of Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 15.1 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated as of March 31.

The Government of the United Kingdom has reported 58.7 per cent of the population had received the first dose of the vaccine and 7.8 per cent of people had received their second dose as of March 30.

These numbers are grim, however, there is hope on the horizon.

Canada is expected to receive a shot of hope with 3.3 million vaccines set to arrive in the coming days.

The Public Health Agency of Canada reported Pfizer will be shipping nearly 1.2 million vaccines and the federal government will receive 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the United States.

Moderna has also pledged to deliver 600,000 additional vaccines.

These vaccines are critical in ensuring Canada can match other countries' inoculation of their populations.

Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said based on current vaccine shipment plans she anticipates the province will potentially be able to fully provide the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to all Albertan adults by June 30. She noted this will be possible even without AstraZeneca in the mix.

A semblance of normal life will not be possible until inoculations become widespread in the community— Each delivered dose represents a shot in the arm for herd immunity.

These potential vaccine deliveries are a sign of hope, but if the federal governments' rollout of vaccines has taught us anything it is to approach these promises with cautious optimism.