CALGARY -- Alberta will be ready to administer up to 50,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the month, but a delay in delivery from the federal government will hamper that effort, Health Minister Tyler Shandro said Friday.

Shandro was responding to reports of a delay in vaccine shipments from Ottawa and called it "another blow."

"We need vaccines," he said. "That is the bottleneck that we are facing as we work to ramp up both the number of doses that are administered and the groups that we include in the vaccine distribution. Today we received another blow."

On Friday morning, federal officials said there will be a “temporary” delay in Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipments over the next month due to the pharmaceutical giant’s expansion plans at its European manufacturing facility.

The shortage will result in an average of 50 per cent of coming doses delayed each week.

While shipments will continue in the coming weeks, the amount of doses in them will be much lower, sometimes by hundreds of thousands.

“Pfizer has confirmed that Canada's deliveries will be impacted for the next four weeks," said Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is leading Canada’s logistical rollout. 

"We will see an average reduction over this timeframe of 50 per cent of expected deliveries. There will minimal impact next week … The most profound impact will be in the week of Jan. 25."

Shandro said as of Friday, 70,000 doses had been given out in Alberta, with the first phase of vaccinations targeting resident in long-term care centres and frontline health-care workers.

Premier Jason Kenney has said the hope is to begin vaccinating the general public by June, but on Friday Shandro said that timeline will depend on supply from the federal government.

Phase 1 is split into two groups, 1A and 1B, with 1A being long-term care residents and frontline health-care workers. There are about 87,000 people in that group, said Shandro:

  • About 20,000 long-term care residents
  • About 36,000 workers in long-term care faclilities
  • About 12,000 home care workers

The rest are frontline health-care workers like emergency room phycians, nurses and other staff along with respiratory therapists.

Phase 1B of vaccinations, expected to start in the coming weeks, will shift toward Albertans aged 75 and older and Indigenous people age 65 and over, then gradually moving down through age brackets in the months to follow.

There are about 300,000 people total in groups 1A and 1B, with most of them, about 230,000, being seniors living in the community.

Shando said Phase 1 vaccinations will go ahead as scheduled but the delay could push back the start of Phase 2.

Phase 2 priority groups are still being determined and Phase 3 will be for the general public.

With files from CTV Ottawa's Rachel Aiello