Wondering when it will be your turn to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
Jasmine Mah, a University of Guelph graduate, and Steven Wooding, a U.K. physicist, paired up and created an online tool that projects a date range for when a Canadian could expect to receive their double dose.
The estimated timeline is based on factors such as your age, or whether you work in health care or with seniors in long-term care or live in an Indigenous community, all groups prioritized for Stage One of the federal rollout.
Mah said she created the calculator after hearing people talk about the pandemic being over because of the availability of vaccines.
“I think people might be a little too over optimistic,” said Mah. “Yes, vaccines have been approved but we still have a ways to go. I don’t want people to let their guard down too early. We still have to be careful,” said the 28-year-old, who lives in Los Angeles with her husband, a Canadian doing post-doctoral work at a university there as well as in the U.K.
“Because I’m Canadian this topic was really important for me,” said Mah, who graduated from Guelph in 2018 with a masters in science. “I wanted to be a part of this and help people figure out when they are going to get their vaccine.”
Mah has collaborated on calculators before, including one that estimated how much hand sanitizer a person would need to buy based on their usage.
The vaccine calculator is based on an earlier one done by Wooding for the U.K., which began delivering the vaccine about a week before Canada.
The pair used the federal government’s vaccine rollout plan, which includes broad estimates of how many doses will be delivered in three-month timelines in 2021, as well as population and employment data from Statistics Canada.
In some cases, studies were used to determine, for instance, how many people in Canada live in long-term-care homes. And wherever possible, Mah said they tried to reduce the amount of double-counting in the priority categories so for instance, if someone was 80 years or older and lived in a long-term-care home, they aren’t counted twice.
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The demographic data is based on the number of Canadians who are 16 and older, which is the cut-off age for the Pfizer vaccine, which Health Canada has approved but not for children younger than that.
The Moderna vaccine, also approved for use here, can be administered to people who are 18 and older, but Mah said “in order to encompass all scenarios we used the age of 16 years since that’s the age limit for Pfizer.”
As in many countries, the vaccine will not be mandatory here; therefore Mah and Wooding based their projections on a 70.3 per cent uptake, which refers to the estimated percentage of people who will choose to get the shot.
That number is close to the amount of Canadians, aged 64 and older, who received a flu shot last year.
Mah said the proportion of Canadians of all ages that typically receive the flu shot each year is much lower, but they didn’t use the overall figure because they reasoned that more people will get the COVID vaccine.
“We know that the COVID vaccines are a very different scenario — whether you’re young or old we expect that most people will want to get vaccinated,” Mah said. “So that’s why we felt that the number for older Canadians would be more representative.”
Mah notes that timelines for delivery could vary in the provinces depending on which groups governments decide to prioritize and when. Or if they decided to deliver one dose of the vaccine instead of two, as some countries have done to reach more people.
In the north, the timeline may be different because the territories are using the Moderna vaccine exclusively, and not the one created by Pfizer.
“It is going to vary,” Mah. said “And their plans are not fully formulated yet,” she said of the provinces. When plans are more definite, Mah said she will consider making individual calculators.
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