‘Ottawa is not going to get left behind’ when new COVID-19 vaccines arrive: Gen. Hillier

OTTAWA — The head of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine task force insists Ottawa will continue to receive doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to vaccinate health care workers, but does not know when the next shipment will arrive in the capital.

“Ottawa is not going to be left behind,” said retired Canadian Armed Forces Gen. Rick Hillier during an interview on CTV News at Five with Matt Skube.

Three-thousand doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine arrived at the Ottawa Hospital Civic Campus on Monday. On Tuesday, the first health care workers in long-term care homes and high risk-settings started to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

On Wednesday, the federal government confirmed its making plans to ship doses of Moderna’s vaccine pending approval by Health Canada. The government is also expecting to receive up to 200,000 more doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine next week.

Skube asked Hillier if Ottawa would receive any of the Moderna vaccines once approved by Health Canada.

“I don’t know what numbers will come to Ontario to start with, and indeed when they will come after the Moderna vaccine is approved. Yes, vaccines will come to Ottawa without question, and I’m not going to talk amounts here because we still don’t know what’s coming, when exactly,” said Hillier Wednesday evening.

“All I can say is that we are ready for it and when it comes we are going to distribute it. It’s going to go into the places where the need is greatest first, where people are in the most vulnerable circumstances.”

Hillier says the mission of the COVID-19 vaccine task force is to “focus on the areas that are most vulnerable right now.”

“Ottawa, the region, is not going to be left behind. We got very few doses right now – we had 3,000 doses here in Ottawa, 3,000 in Toronto and that’s all that we have right now,” said Hillier.

“We’ve had words about when more will come, but we wait to see exactly when that is, how many doses there will be in those shipments and whether or not that includes Moderna.  We’re ready to distribute it!”

The Ottawa Hospital Civic Campus and the University Health Network in Toronto were the first two sites to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine this week.

“We used Ottawa as a distribution centre and a first vaccination site because we wanted to stress the logistic chain of receiving those vaccines, how we handle them and how we set up the clinic,” said Hillier.

“Obviously now that Ottawa’s up and rolling, and they’ve learned a lot of lessons in the last 24 hours and are doing lots of wonderful, wonderful work up there and helping the rest of the province also learn those lessons, we’re not going to shut Ottawa down – it’s up and rolling, it’s going to continue to roll.”

Hillier was in Ottawa on Wednesday, and visited the COVID-19 vaccination site at the Ottawa Hospital Civic Campus.

“I just visited Ottawa Hospital and saw the incredible team of absolutely dedicated and committed medical professionals out there and the support staff who are running the clinics,” said Hillier.

“Let me just tell you; I was inspired by them, they are inspired by the mission that they have to try and turn and start moving us out of the abyss that we’re in over the last 10 months or so. Absolutely inspirational!”

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