KITCHENER -- Waterloo Region received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines on Monday, two days ahead of schedule.

According to a news release, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived at Grand River Hospital with support from regional police. On Friday, Deputy Chief Shirley Hilton said that the vaccine could arrive as early as Dec. 23, with vaccinations beginning that day or the next.

The news release on Monday said that vaccination clinics would begin on Dec. 22, instead.

"After an intense week of planning, today marks a significant step forward in roll-out of the COVID-19 immunization program," Hilton said in the release.

"I cannot stress enough that the vaccination program will take time. Adherence to public health guidelines is vital to ensure the health of our community while we roll-out the vaccine."

The region's COVID-19 task force is working with local long-term care homes to vaccinate up to 15 per cent of staff at prioritized homes per day of immunization clinics. The region says it's aiming to spread out the vaccinations to ensure staffing levels aren't impacted.

"I think it's great news that the vaccine arrived and it's interesting that it's on the same day that the premier announced a 28-day lockdown," Regional Chair Karen Redman said. "I think there's two messages here. One, is there's a message of hope that the vaccine is here and we will all eventually get it. The second is, we still need to follow those public health protocols because the entire community of Waterloo Region will not be able to get the vaccine for months."

Grand River Hospital is one of 17 hospitals across the province to receive doses of the COVID-19 vaccine this week.

The clinic at Grand River Hospital is appointment-based and any missed appointments will go to hospital staff.

Waterloo Region on Monday tied its daily single-day record for new cases with 96. There have been more than 5,100 cases of COVID-19 in the region since the pandemic began.