Immigration status will not be a factor in COVID-19 vaccine rollout, Canada’s public health agency says.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) told CIC News: “COVID-19 vaccines will be made available to everyone in Canada for whom it is approved and recommended for use… This applies to all persons in Canada whether or not they are citizens.”
Currently, Canada has approved the Pfitzer-BioNTech vaccine for people over age 16, and the Moderna vaccine for people over the age of 18. Priority for early vaccination will be given to residents and staff of care homes, adults over 70, health care workers, and adults in Indigenous communities.
Canada’s government webpage also says that as additional vaccines become available more populations will have access to the vaccine. These groups include residents and staff of shared living spaces such as housing for migrant workers, some essential workers, and health care workers who were not included in the initial rollout.
As of January 21, 2021, there have been 935,700 doses of the vaccine delivered to Canada. Of these, about 729,640 doses were administered as of January 21, according to the vaccine tracker run by a University of Saskatchewan student based on official updates from each province.
Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments are using the recommendations set out in the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) to help determine their vaccine distribution priorities.
Immigrants are included in these recommendations, given a number of factors that put them at risk. For instance, many populations of migrants may have different exposure to the virus due to international travel or due to their occupations, and other factors. So, the NACI suggested a number of interventions to reduce inequity and improve access for migrants and other groups. Some of these suggestions include planning immunization programs with immigration and refugee departments, providing culturally appropriate educational materials in multiple languages, and having translators available in clinics.
The provinces have publicly released their distribution plans on provincial vaccine pages. Quebec, and Manitoba spokespersons specifically told CIC News that migrants could receive the COVID-19 vaccination regardless of their status. A spokesperson from the Northwest Territories said in an email: “Anyone with a valid NWT health care card will receive the voluntary Moderna vaccine as we exercise a phased rollout.”
Deliveries of Pfizer vaccine are expected to drop by 50 percent over the next four weeks as the company is struggling to meet global demand.
The federal government still expects that everyone who wants to be vaccinated in Canada will be able to do so by September 2021.
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