CAF CDS OpVECTOR Planning Directive Support To COVID Vaccine Rollout


27 November 2020 — PDF available here

Distribution List



  1. CDS/OM Directive for Sustained Activities in a COVID-19 Environment (Fall 2020 Posture), 24 September 2020
  2. Letter from Minister of Public Safety (MPS) to the Minister of National Defence (MND) -Request for Assistance (RFA), 30 March 2020
  3. Letter from MND to MPS -RFA Response, 7 April 2020
  4. Letter from MND to CDS - RFA, 7 April 2020 (Direction on Comprehensive RFA)
  5. Standing Operations Order for Domestic Operations (SOODO), 17 November 2017
  6. CF Mil Pers Instruction 20/04 -Administrative Policy of Class A, Class B, and Class C Reserve Service
  7. National Defence Act (NDA) section 273.6
  8. Provision of Service Manual
  9. CDS TASKORD 005 - Op LASER 20-01 Force Employment Framework, 9 October 2020
  10. Public Affairs Guidance: Op LASER (COVID-19), 8 May 2020
  11. Defence Administrative Orders and Directive 6001-1 (Record Keeping), 14 March 2013
  12. Ministerial Order - Special Duty Operation Designation - Op LASER, 26 May 2020
  13. CDS Directive for MND and CDS Critical Information Requirements, 31 July 2020


  1. Application. This directive is an order that applies to all officers and non-commissioned members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). It is intended to initiate detailed planning for the establishment of Operation VECTOR - the CAF support to the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out. This operation will be separate from Op LASER but recognizes that there will be overlap at the tactical level.
  2. General.
    1. Canada has announced agreements with seven leading vaccine manufacturers to procure enough doses to potentially immunize all Canadians against COVID-19 by the end of 2021. Initial expected shipments of two vaccines from January-March 2021 (known as 'Track 1 ') will likely be sufficient to immunize approximately three million Canadians. As provinces, territories, and Indigenous communities do not have the required infrastructure or experience to handle these Track 1 vaccines, which must be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, they will be delivered through a federally-coordinated strategy led by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). DND/CAF is already providing significant logistical planning and operational coordination support to this effort;
    2. Following the delivery of Track 1 vaccines, it is anticipated that more typical vaccines involving less supply chain complexity will be introduced. Regional health systems are more accustomed to handling these types of vaccines, suggesting that a decentralized approach is likely for follow-on tracks; and
    3. Meanwhile, COVID-19 continues to pose a significant threat to th.e well-being of Canadians. Thousands of the nation's citizens are being infected daily, health care systems are under significant duress, and the CAF is again being called to support vulnerable populations.
  3. Problem Definition. Track 1 vaccines are likely to be delivered to Canadians at the height of the second wave of the pandemic and in the midst of the spring 2021 thaw - a period of heightened flood risk for many communities. The essential challenge to the CAF will be anticipating and posturing personnel, equipment, planning capacity, and logistical expertise to assist with the known demands of this task and other ongoing operations, while preserving adequate capacity to surge in scale to respond to other unforeseen domestic emergencies.
  4. Assumptions
    1. Initial shipments from vaccine providers in the first quarter of 2021 will only be sufficient for a small percentage of the Canadian population. A sequenced approach to vaccination will therefore be required. Supply chains will be afforded an opportunity to test and adjust before greater quantities of a COVID-19 vaccine are acquired;
    2. Delivery of Track 1 vaccines will occur in the first quarter of 2021 as anticipated. For the supply chain to be set and ready for delivery before the New Year, the following national-level decisions will be made and communicated by PHAC no later than early-December 2020:
      1. Apportionment of Track 1 vaccine doses by province/territory and select Canadian populations living outside of Canada;
      2. Advice to provinces/territories on priority populations that should receive the Track 1 vaccines;
      3. Designation of the points of delivery for the Track 1 vaccines;
      4. Exercising vaccine contract options; and
      5. Regulatory approvals.
    3. PHAC will procure the services of a logistics service provider (LSP) that will be uniquely experienced with the handling of vaccinations and medical materiel, digital supply chain management, and has access to ultra-cold storage resources;
    4. As Track 1 vaccines are distributed and administered in the first quarter of 2021, the nation could experience the peak of the second wave of COVID-19, resulting in significant stress at different points across the country. This could require CAF assistance. Concurrently, CAF could be called to respond to natural disasters, national security emergencies, and other operational demands. Municipal and provincial emergency management organizations will have reduced capacity to plan for and manage these events;
    5. Multiple requests for CAF assistance to the vaccine roll-out will likely be submitted to the CAF by all echelons of government (federal and provincial/territorial). The Ministerial Direction to the CAF (reference D) provided in response to the Comprehensive RFA (reference B) remains extant and relevant for CAF support under the rubric of Operations including LENTUS, LASER, and VECTOR;
    6. For the purposes of military contingency planning, the following is the assumed general demarcation of federal and provincial/territorial responsibilities related to vaccine procurement, distribution, and administration:
    1. Federal.
      1. Procure vaccines;
      2. Regulatory approvals;
      3. Coordinate distribution of vaccines to provincial/territorial points of delivery;
      4. National vaccine surveillance; and
      5. Develop and promulgate guidance and educational material regarding federal/provincial/territorial responsibilities, handling of vaccines, and the establishment of administration sites and immunization clinics in a COVID environment
    2. Provincial/Territorial.
      1. Apply lessons learned from provincial influenza immunization programs;
      2. Designate priority populations that will receive the Track 1 vaccine;
      3. Establish points of delivery regionally, each capable of receiving shipments, securely storing large-scale volumes of the vaccine at required temperatures, managing and tracking of vaccines, and coordinating ordering via PHAC;
      4. Establish points of administration regionally, each capable of receiving shipments, securing storing the vaccine at required conditions and temperatures, manage overall use of the vaccine, deliver immunization services and administration clinics, and respond to health events; and
      5. Vaccine surveillance and reporting.
    The CAF will support Whole of Government efforts to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to Canadians, while ensuring continued readiness for the COVID-19 response, national security incidents, and other domestic emergencies.
    CDS Intent. Early and persistent CAF leader engagement and collaboration with federal (SJS) and provincial/territorial (CJOC/RJTFs) governments will be essential to facilitating logistical and operational support planning, illuminating potential requests for CAF support, and mobilizing timely responses. I expect CJOC through RJTF commanders to offer support to the planning efforts of regional vaccine roll-out task forces, and to identify to the SJS probable requests for CAF assistance. Concurrently, strategic staffs will continue to work with PHAC and OGDs to establish a national-level common operating picture and holistic appreciation of the needs of various jurisdictions, while simultaneously planning for the administration of the vaccine to CAF members. We will deliberately set and posture a domestic ready force against known tasks. The balance of the CAF not committed to operations or critical force generation efforts will be prepared to reconstitute high readiness forces for as-of-yet unforeseen requirements. All CAF members will continue to model resilient mindsets as we surge to support Canadians and this whole of nation effort.
  7. CDS Critical Information Requirements (CCIRs}
    1. All standing CDS CCIRs (reference M) remain extant;
    2. Rates/incidents of infection amongst force elements that could preclude the conduct of CAF operations and/or critical functions;
    3. Requests for CAF assistance;
    4. Developments in the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out that could impact or influence CAF support:
      1. Vaccine(s) removed from the roll-out plan;
      2. Criminal, cyber, or other interference with vaccine roll-out;
      3. Safety issues related to vaccine roll-out.
  8. Key Planning Tasks
    1. CJOC (Supported Command}
      1. Establish contact with all provinces/territories via RJTFs. Proactively offer logistical planning, liaison, and C2 suppor t to regional vaccine roll-out task forces;
      2. Based on provincial/territorial interactions, consolidate and submit to the SJS potential requests for assistance;
      3. Develop contingency plans for the following probable tasks, along with others determined through military planning:
        1. BPT transport Track 1 vaccines on short notice from Spain, Germany, the United States, and other potential locations to designated points of distribution in Canada;
        2. BPT reinforce ground and air lines of communication with CAF vehicles and aircraft to deliver freezers and medical supplies to various regions that cannot be easily accessed by the logistics service provider, including northern, remote and coastal communities;
        3. BPT augment health human resource capacity and transport health care professionals to northern, remote, and coastal communities for vaccination related activities;
        4. BPT to task CAF members to work at warehousing facilities, as well as set-up and logistically support distribution sites and immunization clinics;
        5. BPT assign DND/CAF infrastructure to store vacci nes and medical materiel, as ordered; and
        6. Concurrently, preserve sufficient capacity to provide life-saving support to vulnerable Canadians across the country as part of the COVID-19 response - all while remaining poised to address as-of-yet unforeseen weather events, domestic emergencies, and mandated domestic and international operations.
      4. Assign CJOC personnel tasked to PHAC OPCON to SJS, which will maintain liaison with that federal agency;
      5. Coordinate and deliver an Operation VECTOR plan back-brief informed by the PHAC Vaccine Roll-Out Task Force logistics support plan. The briefing will include proposed composition and posture of the force required for the following:
        1. Operationally committed forces (i.e., force elements already committed) in support of Operations LASER, VECTOR, and LENTUS;
        2. Deliberate stand-by forces (i.e., force elements postured against anticipated tasks as a result of contingency planning, but not yet committed); and
        3. General support reinforcing forces (i.e., proposed reserve to be prepared to reconstitute domestic ready forces for as-of-yet unforeseen operational requirements).
      6. Organize and deliver CAF war-game and rehearsal of concept for the winter/spring 2021 timeframe, focused on the potential intersection of Operations LASER, VECTOR, and LENTUS;
      7. Conduct planning for vaccine distribution and administration for all CAF personnel OUTCAN and INCAN informed by MPC advice;
      8. Collaborate with SJS, ADM (Mat), and CF H Svcs Gp to replenish stocks of medical PPE and procure ultra-cold and frozen-cold storage appliances that are compatible for travel in CAF sea, land, and air mobility platforms; and
      9. OPI tactical and operational lessons learned.
    2. Force Generators/Level 1s
      1. Contribute to CJOC contingency planning;
      2. Keep members and families informed of the evolving situation;
      3. Generate forces as required for Operations LASER and VECTOR; an
      4. (Report on key implications to force generation activities.
    3. SJS
      1. Remain primary CAF conduit to PHAC, the Vaccine Roll-Out National Operations Centre (NOC), Public Safety Canada (PS), and other federal OGDs;
      2. (Coordinate DND/CAF involvement in all PHAC-led war-game and rehearsal of concept events;
      3. (Via standing SOPG and based on Surgeon General advice, prepare for CDS and DM consideration of proposed vaccine prioritization and apportionment for DND/CAF members, including those deployed/posted abroad and consideration for their dependents;
      4. In collaboration with ADM (Pol) and JAG, review and refresh (if required) the comprehensive RFA to ensure authorities continue to allow for the dynamic tasking of CJOC in support of the COVID response, vaccine roll-out and domestic emergencies;
      5. Collaborate with CJOC, ADM (Mat), and CF H Svcs Gp to replenish stocks of medical PPE and procure ultra-cold and frozen-cold storage appliances that are compatible for travel in CAF sea, land, and air mobility platforms; and
      6. OPI strategic lesson learned.
    4. CFINTCOM. Analyze and report on COVID-19 threat internationally, potential threats to COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, other public safety and national security threats, and geopolitical developments impacting Canada and our allies.
    5. MPC
      1. Monitor and report on force health;
      2. Monitor and report on the readiness of CF H Svcs Gp force elements that could be called on to support ongoing COVID response and vaccine operations;
      3. Inform advice on COVID-19 immunization within DND/CAF, to include members deployed or posted outside of Canada, as well as possibly foreign military forces serving in Canada;
      4. Report to the CDS and DM any significant concerns or relevant new information with regards to the COVID-19 vaccine that may inform chain of command guidance;
      5. Prepare educational material on the COVID-19 vaccine for CAF personnel and collaborate with ADM (HR-Civ) for ONO educational material;
      6. Ensure CF H Svcs Gp healthcare providers have the required information on COVID-19 vaccine to meet their professional obligations. This includes but is not limited to the provision of informed consent, vaccine reporting obligations and tracking; and
      7. In collaboration with CJOC, distribute and position medical PPE as required across Canada to enable rapid response operations.
    6. ADM (Pol). The following support is requested:
      1. In collaboration with SJS and JAG, ensure the required Ministerial authorities for vaccine roll-out under Op VECTOR are in place;
      2. Provide policy advice on requests for CAF assistance in collaboration with SJS and JAG for CDS and Ministerial decision;
      3. Inform preparations for OM/Minister-level engagements and all committee appearances.
    7. ADM (Fin). It is requested that ADM (Fin) cost the CAF response to date and response options being considered.
    8. ADM (PA). The following support is requested:
      1. In conjunction with OGDs, inform Canadians of CAF operations, including Operation VECTOR; and
      2. Facilitate internal communications regarding the DND/CAF COVID-19 immunization program once known.
    9. ADM (Mat). It is requested that ADM (Mat) collaborate with SJS, CJOC, and CF H Svcs Gp to replenish stocks of medical PPE and procure ultra-cold and frozen-cold storage appliances that are compatible for travel in CAF sea, land, and air mobility platforms.
  9. Coordinating Instructions
    1. Key Timings
      1. 2 Dec (TBC): PHAC-led Vaccine Roll-Out War-game;
      2. 11 Dec (TBC): PHAC Rehearsal of Concept;
      3. 13 Dec (TBC) PHAC-led Whole of Government Rehearsal;
      4. 15 Dec (TBC): PHAC Vaccine Roll-Out Logistics Support Plan promulgated;
      5. TBC: CJOC back-brief to CDS; and
      6. NLT 31 Dec: CJOC-led War-game and Rehearsal of Concept conducted. CAF Op VECTOR response force set.
    No change from ref I.
  11. Personnel. Op VECTOR will be designated an operation and will be effective until the CDS issues operation termination instructions. Employment of Primary Reserve members in support of Op VECTOR is authorized to complete assigned OP VECTOR tasks and training.
    Supported Commander. Comd CJOC.
  13. Supporting Commanders and Group Principals. No change from ref I.


    Distribution List

    • Action
      • VCDS
      • SJS DOS
      • Comd RCN
      • Comd CA
      • Comd RCAF
      • Comd MPC
      • Comd CJOC
      • Comd CANSOFCOM
      • Comd CFINTCOM
      • ADM (Pol)
      • ADM (Fin)/CFO
      • ADM (PA)
      • JAG
    • Information
      • MND
      • Assoc MND
      • DM
      • Senior Assoc DM
      • DComd JFC Naples
      • ADM (Mat)
      • ADM (IM)
      • ADM (IE)
      • ADM (S&T)
      • ADM HR-Civ
      • ADM (RS)
      • ADM (DIA)
      • CFLA
      • Corp Sec
      • ED NSIROCS