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Letter to the editor 1, Dec. 17, 2020

Open letter from our MP Peter Schiefke

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced Health Canada's authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine. Canada will receive up to 249,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine by the end of December 2020. The first doses to arrive are a part of the 76 million doses that Canada has obtained under its current agreement with Pfizer. We will begin by vaccinating the most vulnerable members of society. The vaccine's availability will continue throughout the year, ultimately providing every Canadian with the opportunity to get vaccinated. To date, Canada has secured the most diverse portfolio of vaccines and the most number of doses per capita in the world – putting Canada at the front of the pack to receive the vaccine. By purchasing from several different sources, we have ensured greater security and added flexibility in rolling out such a large-scale vaccination campaign. That said, the Pfizer vaccine poses significant challenges for distribution as it must be transported and stored at less than -70 degrees Celsius. Currently, Pfizer, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Armed Forces, and all Provinces and Territories are working together to finalize preparation efforts, including training on handling the product.

I want to assure you that all vaccine candidates must undergo stringent pre-clinical and clinical trials. Health Canada will continue to review evidence of each candidate vaccine's safety, efficacy, and manufacturing quality as it becomes available. I want to be clear here in saying that Health Canada's approval systems are among the very best in the world. We have a rigorous scientific review system in place, and absolutely no step in the evaluation process will be skipped. You can be assured that all vaccines approved for distribution are both safe and effective. I know that it is hard right now to be unable to see family and friends. I certainly know that it will be hard to limit our activities for the holidays. Still, we are finally starting to see the finish line. I won't lie; we are not out of the woods yet. Things will likely worsen before they get better; however, this news is an added motivation for us all to continue respecting public health rules to limit the spread of the virus. As throughout this pandemic, I will continue to keep you informed every step of the way. As always, do not hesitate to contact my team and me if you have any questions or comments. You can reach us by email at Peter.Schiefke@parl.gc.ca or by phone at (450) 510-2305. On that note, stay healthy and safe,

Peter Schiefke

Member of Parliament


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