Quebec adjusting vaccine plan after Pfizer deliveries cut by half for next three weeks

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By Selena Ross, CTV Montreal

A temporary production drop by Pfizer is going to hit Quebec hard, along with the rest of the country, with nearly half the province's forecasted doses between now and Feb. 8 not arriving on schedule.

A day after setting out a firmer plan and schedule for the province's vaccination campaign, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé announced Friday night that nearly 87,000 expected doses that were supposed to be delivered in the next three weeks won't arrive on time.

"Our teams are already working on establishing a new dose distribution schedule," Dubé wrote on Twitter at 6 p.m. Friday. "Details to come."

The temporary supply drop comes after Pfizer decided to retrofit its production plant in Europe in order to be able to manufacture more of the vaccine. The decision was only announced today.

It was already known that the situation would decrease Canada's overall supply by about 50 per cent in the next three weeks. However, it hadn't been announced whether all provinces would be affected equally.

The differences are stark and not evenly spread over the three weeks -- shipments will drop off severely in the middle of that period. In the second week, from Jan. 25 to Feb. 1, Quebec expected to receive nearly 47,000 doses but will instead be getting only 8,775 for the entire week.

For comparison, today alone Quebec gave out 11,400 shots.

Yesterday, Quebec announced its plans to delay Quebecers' second or booster doses of the vaccine by up to 90 days in an effort to give as many as people as possible the first dose.

But that plan was made with much bigger dose deliveries to work with.

"This decrease in arrivals implies a revision of the objectives presented in recent days," Quebec's health ministry wrote in an update on its website.

"[Ministry] teams are actively working to establish a new dose distribution plan accordingly, according to the vaccination priorities established."

The ministry hasn't yet responded to a question from CTV about whether this could include changing the planned 90-day maximum delay before each person gets his or her booster shot.

QUEBEC GAINED MOMENTUM QUICKLY

In the last two weeks, Quebec has sharply ramped up its vaccinating capacity.

It's currently second-highest among major Canadian provinces in how much of the available supply the government is getting into people's arms (78.35 per cent of available doses), and also how many people have been vaccinated per capita (almost 1.5 people vaccinated per 100 people). Only Alberta is higher.

However, the province is still only partway through vaccinating its first-priority groups.

"In Quebec, 127,073 doses of vaccine have been administered to date, including 27,654 to CHSLD residents, which represents nearly 65% ​​of those accommodated," the ministry wrote in its update.

"As for the nursing staff, 94,318 people were vaccinated, out of 325,000," which adds up to 29 per cent.

The remaining 5,000 or so doses were given to "family caregivers and to people living in remote or isolated communities," the province said.

The statement said that "the vaccination schedule adapts continuously with confirmation of the arrival of vaccines, in a manner consistent with respecting the established priority groups."

It said that the province can currently make projections until the end of March given the delivery information it has.

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