COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout in Canada - Enablement

The Canadian government has highlighted transparency as one of the key factors in garnering public trust in the safety and efficacy of the approved COVID-19 vaccines. This research report contains information on Canada’s approach to COVID-19 vaccination enablement as well as several insights on Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine approach.

Vaccine Procurement

  • Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, had announced in a press conference that the Canadian government would be “footing the bill over the costs of the coronavirus vaccine,” which will include the costs of supplies to administer the vaccines.
  • Approximately $220 million has been committed to the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility in order to procure up to 15 million vaccine doses for every Canadian citizen.
  • The Canadian Government has awarded contracts to FedEx Express Canada and Innomar Strategies Inc. to provide an end-to-end COVID-19 logistics solution for the vaccines. They will provide a variety of services that will assist in the warehousing as well as transportation of vaccines to provincial and territorial authorities and Indigenous partners.
  • FedEx Express Canada and Innomar Strategies Inc. will work under the direction of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Operations Centre (NOC), led by Major-General Dany Fortin.
  • Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) had been tasked to procure goods and services required for vaccine distribution.
  • The Government of Canada has also awarded standing offers to 10 Canadian companies on an as-needed basis for the weekly delivery of tens of thousands of kilograms of dry ice nationwide.
  • On 7th January 2021, a contract to build further functionality to the National Vaccine Management Information Technology Platform (NVMIP) was awarded to Deloitte. The system will assist in managing vaccine rollout, administration, and reporting.

Immunization Plan

  • Vaccine Enablement
  • Federal, Provincial, and Territorial (F/P/T) health ministers had agreed to a set of common principles in order to bring the benefits of COVID-19 immunization to Canada. The principles are as follows: science-driven decision-making, transparency, coherence and adaptability, fairness and equity, public involvement, and consistent reporting.
  • The government has established the Immunization National Operations Centre (NOC) for the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines. They will act as “the federal logistical coordination entity and focal point for managing vaccine delivery and collaboration with provinces and territories for distribution.”
  • NOC will be supported by a team of experts; the Canadian Armed Forces, for example, will assist them with the “planning for the distribution of vaccines, and logistical challenges, such as cold storage, data-sharing, and reaching rural and Indigenous communities.”
  • Provincial and territorial governments will have jurisdictional responsibility when it comes to delivering the COVID-19 vaccine doses to the population they serve.
  • The responsibilities of the provincial and territorial governments include receiving and documenting the vaccine shipments, making decisions about how to sequence vaccine doses, planning and establishing clinics for the delivery of immunizations, providing the required training to healthcare workers and support staff, managing and tracking the vaccine shipments, administering the doses to individuals, monitoring and reporting any adverse effects, and more.
  • Canada’s full COVID-19 Immunization Plan can be found here.


  • The Canadian government has highlighted transparency as being a key factor in achieving public trust in the safety and efficacy of the approved COVID-19 vaccines. The government mentions that comprehensive, reliable, and transparent information about all aspects of the development, recommended use, evaluation, surveillance, and monitoring of vaccines are fundamental.
  • The Canadian government has highlighted the importance of communicating and engaging with its citizens; citizens must be confident in the efficacy and safety of the approved COVID-19 vaccines and feel “empowered to make informed choices about immunization”
  • According to the government, the messaging and engagement with the Canadian public should be “informative and designed to support public confidence, with consideration given to using accessible language and culturally safe approaches to vaccine delivery.”
  • To support this, the government will provide ongoing access to accurate, clear, and comprehensive information regarding the vaccines that are available (for example, on their official website,


Expediting Regulatory Approvals/Funding Research

  • The Canadian government was responsible for the implementation of temporary measures that accelerated the regulatory pathways for clinical trials and the eventual approval of the COVID-19 vaccines.
  • The Canadian government had invested in scientific and medical research; the investments were intended to assist companies in the advancement of research and to assist the Canadian industry in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. Canada’s approach is comparable to other countries that have made similar investments in order to fast-track research and development of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Early On Vaccines

  • Canada came in first place in the global race to secure vaccines against the coronavirus. They are the country with the highest number of COVID-19 vaccine doses pre-orders in the world.
  • Trudeau had admitted that the reason Canada had pre-ordered COVID-19 vaccine doses in large quantities was because the Canadian government didn’t want a repeat of an earlier mistake that happened during the early, critical stages of the pandemic; in early to mid-2020, there had been real concerns about the lack of personal protective equipment for frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canada's vaccine preorders

Slow Vaccine Rollout

  • Although Canada had secured more COVID-19 vaccine doses in comparison to any other country, they had been slow in administering them.
  • Some of the issues dogging Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout include inadequate planning and coordination as well as logistical complications posed by the deep freeze storage unit required by the Pfizer vaccine.
  • The slow pace of vaccine rollout has been attributed, in part, to Canada’s expansive geography as well.
  • The rollout of the vaccine had also been complicated by a “decentralized health system run by individual provinces and territories and by Ontario’s decision to pause vaccinations in the country’s most populous province for two days during the holidays.”
  • According to former Canadian health minister, Jane Philpott, “vaccinating a country as vast as Canada, and where some people live in very remote areas, was always going to be an extraordinary logistical challenge.”

Supply Chain Issues

  • On 19th January 2021, Pfizer had told Canada that they will not receive any COVID-19 vaccines in the upcoming week “due to the continuing manufacturing disruptions at its facility in Belgium.”
  • Canadian government officials announced that the “shortfall of deliveries from Pfizer” would ultimately lead to a major reduction of vaccinations in the upcoming weeks.
  • According to Maj. Gen. Fortin, “the overall impact over the next month (February 2021) is in the range of a 50% decrease of expected allocation.”
  • Despite the hiccups in the supply chain, Prime Minister Trudeau had reassured Canadians that the overall goal to have every willing Canadian vaccinated by September would remain on track.
Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at The Digital Momentum with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.

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