Firefighter vaccinations in varying stages across Canada
By Maz Atta
By Maz Atta
As Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination roll-out continues, firefighters are in varying stages of vaccination timelines across the country. The vaccination rollout process is fluid and everchanging, and it continues to be updated by government officials.
In Ontario, firefighters were offered a COVID vaccine in phase one. The province moved to phase two of its vaccination plan in April.
In a press release, Carmen Santoro, president of Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association (OPFFA), said he is grateful for the government’s decision to include firefighters in the first vaccination phase.
“I appreciate Premier Doug Ford and our other provincial leaders for recognizing us as an essential service.”
As part of Manitoba’s phase two plan, the government expanded vaccine eligibility in April to include firefighters and police officers. Government public statements report that vaccine supply remains limited, and there will not be enough vaccines to immunize everyone in these categories immediately.
As of April, British Columbia announced that first responders, including firefighters, will be among the priority groups in phase two who will receive their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. This plan to give first responders priority access to COVID-19 vaccinations stalled when federal officials halted the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in people under the age of 55 due to concerns over blood clots.
Dan Derby, president of Fire Chiefs’ Association of British Columbia, said the vaccination rollout in B.C. has been challenging.
“The vaccine rollout in B.C. pertaining to firefighters has been challenging. Prior to December 31 first responders [fire and police] in B.C. were prioritized in group 2 as defined by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). In January that changed and all reference to first responders was removed. We do appreciate the challenges taking place with the supply of vaccines, however the concern of the ability to maintain essential emergency services in all communities remains our priority. I am pleased that first responders were included in the essential worker group last month. For now first responders are being prioritized in the essential worker list in areas defined with outbreaks. The vaccination of firefighters has been taking place in these areas and we continue to advocate that all firefighters should be prioritized.”
In March, Newfoundland and Labrador government said first responders, including firefighters, are among the priority groups in phase two of the vaccination plan, now underway.
In Alberta, firefighters are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination as the province moves to complete phase two of its vaccination plan. Online bookings are now available for vaccination appointments in participating pharmacies or Alberta Health Services (AHS) clinics.
In Prince Edward Island, firefighters and first responders began receiving vaccines in April as part of the province’s phase two.
In Quebec, public security personnel, such as firefighters, police, and corrections facility staff, are among the most recent groups in phase two to become eligible for vaccinations
Nova Scotia is vaccinating firefighters aged 60 and older, and in New Brunswick, firefighters are eligible under the current phase two framework.
Saskatchewan has entered phase two of the roll-out plan, which includes first responders along with public health inspectors.
Currently, mobile vaccination units are targeting group home shelter staff and residents. Once the vaccination process is complete, firefighters and first responders within central workplaces are up next for vaccination.
The Yukon and Northwest Territories are now vaccinating all residents aged 18 and older.
The Nunavut government said that fire fighters, RCMP, and emergency medical service people are eligible to receive their vaccinations.