Health Canada gives thumbs up to Moderna COVID-19 vaccine with 53,000 doses destined for Ontario before New Year’s Day

Up to 168,000 doses expected throughout Canada by the end of December

Canadians will soon have another vaccine to help get through the pandemic, one that doesn’t require such strict storage conditions.

Health Canada has given its approval to the Moderna VOCIV019 vaccine for use in those over the age of 18. Shipments are expected to begin trickling into Canada within the next 48 hours, while officials say Canada should receive as many as 168,000 doses before the end of December.

“The federal government has allocated approximately 53,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for Ontario in December 2020, and they will be delivered before the end of the month,” said Premier Doug Ford in a statement released Wednesday. “These are the first of 40 million doses Canada will be receiving through its agreement with Moderna.”

Despite the quick turnaround time in both development and approval, officials assure Canadians the vaccine is safe. “Although this process was completed in a shorter timeframe, health Canada’s rigorous standards were upheld,” said Dr. Supriya Sharma, chief medical advisor to Health Canada. “Health Canada authorized the vaccine after an independent and thorough scientific review for safety, efficacy and quality. After assessing all the data, we concluded that there was strong evidence that showed the benefits of this vaccine outweigh the potential risks.”

“As with all vaccines, we will take action if any safety issues are identified,” she added.

The vaccine does not need to be stored at -70 degrees Celsius like its Pfizer cousin, but rather at -20 degrees. And the Moderna version has a longer shelf life outside of cold storage, meaning it is a more portable vaccine.

This comes as good news to health experts hoping to not only soon vaccinate residents of long-term care, but also those who live too far away from a vaccination centre like the one in north Barrie. “Since many Canadians live outside major urban areas, this vaccine can be used in communities that haven’t had access to COVID-19 vaccines to date,” added Dr. Sharma.

RELATED: LONG-TERM CARE WORKER RECEIVES BARRIEā€™S FIRST COVID-19 VACCINE

On Tuesday, the first COVID-19 vaccine was administered in Barrie. A long-term care worker living in Barrie received her first of two doses of the Pfizer vaccine at the vaccination clinic based out of the city’s former police headquarters on Sperling Drive.