The City of Toronto has been directed to immediately pause their COVID-19 mass immunization clinic at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre by the end of the day on Tuesday.
The province had originally said the clinic was pause operations on Friday due to a shortage of the vaccine. Anyone with appointments scheduled between Wednesday and Friday have now been cancelled.
The immediate pause is due to further vaccine supply delays announced Tuesday by the Canadian government.
On Friday, U.S. drug maker Pfizer told Canada it was cutting its deliveries in half over the next four weeks, as it slows production at its facility in Belgium for upgrades that will eventually allow it to produce more doses overall.
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the Canadian military commander coordinating the COVID-19 vaccine rollout for the Public Health Agency of Canada, said this means Canada will now be getting only 82 per cent of its expected doses this week and nothing at all the week of Jan. 25.
“Our entire shipment is deferred,” said Fortin.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford expressed frustration with the delays during the province’s daily COVID-19 briefing, demanding to know why Canada has to endure a delay.
“We’re part of the G7, we’re a major player in the world,” he said. “Other countries are getting them, why not Canada? That’s my question to Pfizer.”
While stressing that he was not blaming the Prime Minister or the federal government, Ford said if it were up to him, he would “be up that guy’s [Pfizer’s] ying yang so far with a firecracker, he wouldn’t know what hit him.” adding that he would not stop till Canada got the vaccines.
The mass immunization clinic was expected to run for at least six weeks, seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The initial goal was to administer 250 doses per day and ramp up from there for a period of three weeks, with the second dose scheduled for the same people 21 days later.
The city has said the clinic will help test the setup in non-hospital settings, providing a playbook that the province can use to establish other immunization clinics when the vaccine becomes available to the general public.