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First COVID 19 vaccine shipments arrive in Canada

December 14, 2020 GMT
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, left, and Major-General Dany Fortin, second from left, join other members of the vaccine distribution task force as the Canadian Armed Forces and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) hold a rehearsal of concept drill for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout at the PHAC headquarters in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP)
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, left, and Major-General Dany Fortin, second from left, join other members of the vaccine distribution task force as the Canadian Armed Forces and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) hold a rehearsal of concept drill for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout at the PHAC headquarters in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP)

TORONTO (AP) — The first of many freezer-packed COVID-19 vaccine vials have arrived in Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau late Sunday tweeted a picture of them being taken off a plane. Canada’s health regulator approved the vaccine made by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech last Wednesday.

The vaccines are bound for 14 distribution sites across the country.

Quebec is expected to be the first province to administer the vaccine, saying it’s prepared to start inoculating residents of two long-term care homes as early as Monday.

More of Canada’s initial 30,000 doses of the vaccine are expected to cross the border on Monday.

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The Canadian government recently amended its contract with Pfizer and BioNTech so that it would deliver up to 249,000 doses this month.

Despite the arrival of the vaccine vials, Trudeau urged Canadians to continue to wear masks, avoid gatherings and to download a government app that lets users know if they’ve come in contact with those who have tested positive.

“This is good news,″ Trudeau said. ”But our fight against COVID-19 is not over. Now more than ever, let’s keep up our vigilance.″

The encouraging developments come as the coronavirus continues surging across much of the world.

Canada has contracts with six other vaccine makers and is currently reviewing three other vaccines, including one by Moderna that Canadian health officials said could be approved soon.

Canada has ordered more doses than what’s needed for Canadians but the government plans to donate excess supply to impoverished countries.