FREDERICTON -- The prime minister met with the premiers on Thursday tonight to talk about how the COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed in Canada when it becomes available.

When that will be is not known, but the premiers of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick say they the distribution will be based on vulnerability and on a per capita basis.

In the first of many news conferences promised to the Canadian population, federal health officials began communicating Thursday how a COVID-19 vaccine could be rolled out.

"We expect certain vaccines to become available in early 2021," said Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada's deputy chief public health officer.

That means by March, six million Canadians would be vaccinated in two phases.

"Vulnerable" populations first -- but also "equitably" across Canada.

"It's important to note that the initial supply of these vaccines will be limited," Njoo said. "In the meantime, the government of Canada provinces and territories and other partners are working together to identify high priority groups who will benefit the most from these vaccines."

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil says:"We'll administer it and deal with all of that, but there should be, in my view a national protocol about who gets it."

Nova Scotia and New Brunswick premiers say they expect provincial populations will play a part in the decision making.

"I'd love to think that we'd be in position to rollout a vaccine in the coming months maybe talking the first quarter of next year, but I'm not in the position to verify that and I'm hoping for some good news in that regard tonight," New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said.

McNeil and Higgs have said that after vulnerable populations, hotspots like Toronto should be a priority.

Doctors in New Brunswick agree, which could mean Maritimers will wait a little longer than other parts of Canada.

Dr. Jeff Steeves says we still need to do the things that have become part of daily life: wearing a mask, washing hands and keeping a distance.

"We won't have the vaccine tomorrow, we probably won't have it in just a few months," he said. "And when we do it's going to be rolled out over a period of months, if not a year. So the things we're doing that are keeping us safe now are going to be very important for the next year probably longer."

A little hope on the horizon, but still several months away.