When Canada enters Phase 2 of the national mass COVID-19 immunization effort in April, federal officials are planning to receive “more than” one million doses of approved vaccines every week, on average.

Maj-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is leading Canada’s logistical rollout and distribution of vaccines from the Public Health Agency of Canada, called the second part of the national vaccination campaign the “ramp-up” phase. This is when vaccinations of the general public are slated to begin, and right now it’s anticipated that 20 million doses will be delivered to Canada between April and June.

“The logistics planning team at the agency is working with federal, provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners to align forecasted vaccine availability with the immunization capacity in the provinces and territories,” Fortin said, adding that this includes making sure the cold-chain storage and other supplies like needles and bandages are available.

Fortin said he is “optimistic” that provinces and territories will be ready to vaccinate at scale when these larger batches of doses begin arriving, citing the thousands of health-care professionals who have stepped up and are volunteering to help administer doses when the time comes.

The Phase 1 rollout is continuing through February and March, pushing to properly allocate and prioritize key groups like residents and staff in long-term care homes as well as front-line health-care workers with the initial six million doses of the approved Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

In this first stage of the vaccine campaign, Canada has seen both doses sitting in freezers as well as provinces saying they are running short, while those on the front line have sought to sort out who should and shouldn’t be receiving shots at this time.

Noting the “disappointment” from some vaccination clinics that have already started scaling up but don’t have the supply of vaccines to sustain a higher rate of immunizations, Fortin said that “little wrinkles” like that will be ironed out before mass vaccinations begin.

“We have been sharing data with provinces and territories, who of course, understandably want more vaccines as they ramp up their vaccination programs. The challenge is: we have limited quantities. We’ll have a significant big jump in the second quarter and we'll be able to distribute much larger quantities and vaccinate at scale.”

Fortin said additional planning documents about Phase 2 will be shared with the provinces and territories soon. 

“We continue to work with Public Services and Procurement Canada colleagues, and with manufacturers to maximize the vaccine availability so that as many Canadians as possible can be safely immunized as rapidly as possible.”

By Friday, the federal government will have distributed a total of 929,000 doses, Fortin said Tuesday during a technical briefing on the vaccine rollout.

So far, more than 82 per cent of those doses have actually been administered, according to CTV News’ vaccine tracke

This week the federal government published a delivery schedule outlining the amount of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines being distributed to provinces each week between now and the end of February so that each region can plan accordingly and schedule an appropriate number of vaccination appointments.

Fortin said Wednesday that he expects the precise allocations will be confirmed “soon.”  

The number of vaccines coming into Canada in the months ahead could also shift, if additional vaccine candidates are given regulatory approval.

Health Canada safety and efficacy reviews are underway for two additional vaccine candidates: AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, which if approved would further bolster Canada’s available supply.

Canada has deals to secure up to 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine candidate, and up to 38 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine candidate.

Fortin said he does have preliminary planning figures for the deliveries from these manufacturers, but the batch shipment sizes are still being negotiated.

“Once regulatory approved and once available, then quantities that Canada expects to receive will start trickling into the country.”