It’s about the offer; what Canada can learn from the launch of the coronavirus vaccine in the United States

Melissa Couto Zuber, Canadian Press

Published Sunday, Feb 21, 2021 8:15 am EST

Canadians browsing social media may come across photos of their American peers with broad smiles and vaccination cards showing they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

A recent surge in vaccine release from the United States has far outpaced its northern neighbor, and some Canadians wonder why distribution here lags so far behind.

Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious disease doctor in South Carolina, says that while the speed of the US launch has been impressive lately, it has not been without flaws.

Communication between states has been largely lacking, he says, and the absence of a uniform standard for vaccine eligibility has led to inconsistencies between jurisdictions. Some states, for example, put teachers high on their priority list, while others are still working to vaccinate those over 80.

Confusion in the early stages of the launch caused frustration and reduced confidence, he added. And while the switch to a new presidential administration last month has led to some improvements, Kuppalli says there is room for more.

“I don’t think we are the model for success,” he said in a telephone interview. “We have had many challenges. … but it’s getting better. “

“Communication is better, there is definitely greater transparency and the states have been very communicative in terms of increasing vaccination measures and deploying mass vaccination sites. So all of that is helping. “

The United States vaccinated an average of 1.7 million Americans a day this week and had administered at least one dose to more than 12 percent of its population as of Friday.

Canada, which recently faced weeks of shipping delays and disruptions from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, has distributed nearly 1.4 million doses since its rollout began in mid-December, covering approximately 2.65 percent of your population with at least one dose.

However, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday’s vaccine delivery will increase rapidly, with provinces preparing to release nearly 1.5 million doses over the next three weeks.

The Americans have many factors in their favor by accelerating vaccine distribution, experts say, including a much broader supply than Canada’s, which is bolstered by production from the US-based Moderna.

While having a supply is the first step, Kuppalli says getting those vaccines to pharmacies, where they can be easily administered, has also helped. The US government announced weeks ago its goal of supplying vaccines to some 40,000 pharmacies in the coming months.

Canada has yet to reach the pharmaceutical stage of its vaccine launch, but Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease expert at the University of Toronto, hopes that will happen once we have enough supply to diversify.

“We have exactly the same plan, we just need the critical mass of vaccines,” said Bogoch, who is also part of Ontario’s vaccine distribution working group. “When we get that, you’ll see that vaccines are offered coast-to-coast in a lot of different settings.”

While pharmaceutical distribution makes sense for rapid implementation, it can also lead to problems with wasted doses if people don’t show up for appointments, says Kelly Grindrod, a professor at the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy.

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines should be used within a relatively short period of time after thawing from ultra-cold storage temperatures, Grindrod says, and once a vial has been punctured, that interval decreases even further.

She says Canada has been learning from the wasteful setbacks other countries are experiencing, and hopes that Plan B lists will be compiled of people that they can quickly complete when absences arise.

However, he cautions that those lists should be done fairly.

“You have to make sure there are no tail jumps. So it’s not your friend who comes in, it’s actually the people who normally fall into the next priority round. “

Grindrod says that tail hopping, where people at lower risk of contracting the virus or experiencing a poor COVID outcome are vaccinated earlier than higher priority groups, has been more culturally unacceptable in Canada than in the US, A country without universal health. care system.

So there is justifiable outrage, he adds, when Canadians see their American friends bragging about taking their blows, especially if they are not from high-risk populations.

“Fairness is probably the most important principle of the Canadian vaccine launch,” Grindrod said. “And I’m not sure that’s the case in the United States.”

While the American launch has had its flaws, Grindrod admires some of the more unique approaches that occur south of the border to ensure that high-risk groups can get their fixes.

He pointed to the recent role that black churches have played in coordinating inoculation drives among typically underserved neighborhoods, and pharmacists who have been bringing vaccines to remote communities to inoculate those who cannot easily reach an immunization center.

“You’re seeing really positive examples where the communities themselves are helping create effective outreach,” he said.

“So I think those are the real lessons we can learn from America.”


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