February 26, 2021, Health Canada approved the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for use in Canada. Following the approval of this vaccine, Premier Doug Ford and Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist who sits on the province’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force, spoke to media.

Both Premier Ford and Dr. Bogoch were optimistic that Canada’s access to a third vaccine would accelerate vaccination timelines across the country.

Additional Announcements

Today, the Ontario government announced an investment of up to $53 million to support the development and construction of the new Grey Bruce Health Services Markdale Hospital. Once complete, this hospital will replace the existing aged facility, as well as expand capacity and improves access to care in Grey County and surrounding areas.

Ontario also announced over $550,000 to help create safe and affordable housing for Indigenous women and their children in Sault Ste. Marie. The funding will be delivered through the Social Services Relief Fund, with the intention of supporting women fleeing domestic violence who are at risk of homelessness during COVID-19.

Further Details

Ontario Officials React to Canada’s Approval of the AstraZeneca Vaccine

Today, following Canada’s approval of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, Premier Ford and Dr. Bogoch spoke to media.

Premier Ford called the approval “the best news we’ve heard in a real long time,” and expressed optimism that this would accelerate Ontario’s vaccination timelines. The Premier emphasized his desire to know further details about Ontario’s allotment of the vaccine, including how many doses would be allocated to the province and when these doses would arrive.

Dr. Bogoch echoed the Premier’s remarks and optimism.

The AstraZeneca vaccine requires two doses administered several weeks apart, like other vaccines currently in use in Canada. However, the newly-approved vaccine does not have the same deep-cold storage requirements, making it much simpler to distribute. According to Dr. Bogoch, both primary care clinics and pharmacies have the capacity to store the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Currently, there is limited information on the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine for people under the age of 65, although Health Canada noted today that there was no evidence to suggest the vaccine is less effective for older populations. While the National Advisory Committee on Immunization will make a recommendation next week on who should receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, Premier Ford suggested that in Ontario, this vaccine would mostly be used for younger age groups.