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Canada begins first COVID-19 vaccinations

An Ontario caregiver and an octogenarian in Quebec on Monday, December 14, became the first people vaccinated against COVID-19 in Canada.

Anita Quidangen was televised receiving the injection at a hospital in Toronto as part of a major vaccination campaign in Canada, less than a week after the Pfizer-BioNTech shot was granted approval in the country.

Another woman, 89-year-old Gisele Levesque, was vaccinated minutes earlier at a retirement home in Quebec City, but her procedure was not shown on TV, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube revealed shortly afterwards. 

"I'm okay," Quidangen told the press. 

The employee of a long-term care center for seniors in Toronto said she was "excited" about receiving the vaccine so quickly.  

"Today, we really turned the corner," said Dr Kevin Smith, president of the University Health Network in Toronto, in congratulating the first 5 caregivers who received the vaccine.

Ontario, Canada's most populous province and one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, had 1,940 new cases and 23 deaths on Monday. 

The province is expected to give its next doses to nursing home workers as a priority, according to media reports. 

Quebec was also scheduled to vaccinate staff and residents of two retirement homes in Montreal and Quebec City.

In both provinces, most of the deaths in the first wave occurred in retirement homes.  

Canada, the third country to approve the Pfizer vaccine after the United Kingdom and Bahrain, is expected to receive up to 249,000 doses by the end of the month. 

Authorities expect to receive 6 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines – the latter currently awaiting approval – in the first quarter of 2021, making it possible to vaccinate three million people with two doses. 

Most Canadians should be vaccinated by September 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised. 

Nearly 1 in 2 Canadians (48%) want to be vaccinated "as soon as possible," up from 40% a month ago, according to an online survey of 1,603 Canadians conducted by the Angus Reid Institute from December 8 to 11. 

One in 7 Canadians (14%) do not want to be vaccinated. 

The second wave of the pandemic has accelerated in recent weeks across the country, with 464,313 cases of coronavirus and 13,479 deaths reported in Canada on Monday. – Rappler.com