Alberta slams federal rollout of COVID-19 vaccine as premier plans to join daily update Thursday

After Global News learned Canada will be receiving hundreds of thousands fewer doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine than expected, Alberta’s health minister is calling the news a “failure” on the part of the federal government.

“The federal government is failing Canadians,” Tyler Shandro said in a news release. “This is a grim situation that seems to be getting worse every week.

“We know that life for Canadians will not begin returning to something resembling normal until our most vulnerable are immunized.”

Read more: Officials insist Canada still on track for 4M Pfizer doses by March despite planning data

Alberta was expecting to receive fewer doses after it was announced the company was scaling up its European manufacturing capacity, but the work would affect vaccine supply for a short period.

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According to Shandro’s statement, the provincial government was told Alberta’s share of the vaccines still received would be reduced between 20 and 80 per cent over four weeks. Then Alberta found out the province wouldn’t receive any vaccine at all during the last week of January, but the federal government said the temporary reductions would be made up for in the remainder of the first quarter.

Click to play video 'Alberta health-care workers frustrated by how delayed COVID-19 vaccination was dealt with' Alberta health-care workers frustrated by how delayed COVID-19 vaccination was dealt with

Alberta health-care workers frustrated by how delayed COVID-19 vaccination was dealt with

On Thursday, the province found out Alberta will receive 63,000 fewer vaccines in the first quarter of this year.

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“This means 63,000 more Albertans will not receive this life-saving vaccine,” Shandro said.

“Prime Minister Trudeau, Health Minister Hajdu, and Public Services and Procurement Minister Anand need to come clean with Canadians and fix this now. Anything less is unacceptable.”

Read more: ‘Temporary delay’ chops Canada’s deliveries of Pfizer vaccine in half for four weeks

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Premier Jason Kenney is scheduled to join Dr. Deena Hinshaw Thursday afternoon at the daily COVID-19 update. The province didn’t say what Kenney would be commenting on, but the premier has been critical of the feds’ handling of the vaccine rollout in the past.

But Lorian Hardcastle, a professor at the University of Calgary Faculty of Law, says the province is misleading the public with these comments, while speaking with Global News on Wednesday about the province’s response to these ongoing delays.

“Yes maybe there are things the federal government didn’t do perfectly that Premier Kenney or Minister Shandro could critique Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on, but the issue with the factory in Belgium is just not one of those things.”

Click to play video 'Alberta health minister says Stage 2 of COVID-19 vaccine rollout decisions rely on federal government' Alberta health minister says Stage 2 of COVID-19 vaccine rollout decisions rely on federal government

Alberta health minister says Stage 2 of COVID-19 vaccine rollout decisions rely on federal government

Hardcastle pointed to the fact that every country in the world wants this vaccine and nobody has as much as they want. She says the cracks are being seen not only in Canada where premiers are critiquing the federal government for something largely out of its control, but are being seen on the international stage as well.

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“Some European countries are talking about, how can we keep this drug potentially from being exported and I think the important thing is not to fall apart and be punitive relative to one another.”

Read more: Pfizer vaccine delay a ‘blow,’ will affect Alberta’s vaccine schedule: health minister

A spokesperson for Alberta Health says Alberta currently has enough vaccine to carry out all second doses within the 42-day timeframe, but if there are any further delays, that schedule would be in jeopardy.

Thursday’s COVID-19 update news conference will be streamed live in this post. It is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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