Alberta announces updated vaccine rollout – ahead of schedule

(Hannah Smith/KOMU/Flickr)

By Jake Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter 

(ANNews) – The Alberta Government announced on March 4, 2020 that they will begin offering vaccination appointments to Albertans 65 to 74 years old starting on Monday, March 15 as part of Phase 2A of the provincial vaccination program.

This is happening much earlier than first anticipated, as original estimates predicted that Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout would start in April.

437,000 eligible Albertans will be able to get their vaccine, Health Minister Tyler Shandro said Thursday. “By June 30, we expect to have offered every single adult in the province at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.”

When Phase 2A begins on March 15, bookings will be offered in two-year age groups. On the first day, anyone aged 73 or 74 will be able to book an appointment. On the second day, eligibility will be expanded to include anyone aged 71 to 72, and so on from there.

“Staff and residents in seniors’ supportive-living facilities who are not already immunized will also be able to book appointments starting on Day 1,” Shandro said.

“Appointments will be booked through both participating pharmacies, the online booking tool, as well as HealthLink 811. First Nations, Inuit and Métis people who are aged 50 and older will also receive the vaccine starting the week of March 15.”

“And it’s important to remember that under our system you never lose eligibility for the vaccine,” he said. “Once you’re eligible you stay eligible. No one is left behind.”

On top of this, the Alberta Government also announced their roll-out plan for the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was approved by Health Canada for all adult Canadians.

The first doses of the vaccine arrived in Canada on Wednesday March.

However, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) announced that they are not recommending the AstraZeneca vaccine be used on people 65 or older.

Keeping in line with the NACI’s recommendation, or lack-there-of, the Alberta Government will only administer the AstraZeneca vaccine to healthy adults 64 years old and younger.

Beginning March 10, the province will offer 58,500 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to eligible Albertans aged 50-64 in Phase 2D who do not have severe chronic illness. Albertans born in 1957 can begin booking their appointments on March 10.

Both Shandro and Alberta’s chief medical officer of health emphasized the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine, with Shandro saying, “Both Dr. Hinshaw and I recommend that all healthy Albertans get immunized as soon as they are eligible no matter what vaccine option is provided.” “AstraZeneca works. It has shown to reduce infection by 60 to 70 per cent and severe outcomes like hospitalization by 80 per cent.”

“Where this vaccine seems to differ is in preventing asymptomatic infection, which means reducing the spread of COVID-19. This is why we’re not using it in any congregate living settings like seniors housing.”

Dr, Hinshaw explained, “All three vaccines help protect against serious outcomes or long-term health impacts that COVID-19 can cause for many people. They dramatically reduce the risk of hospitalization and death. If those reasons don’t resonate with you, please know widespread immunization will help us all return to a more normal way of life more quickly.”

“Choosing to be immunized is one of the most important actions we can take for ourselves and for our communities,” she said.

As for Alberta Hospitalizations, the province fell below 250 for the first time in months on March 6. There are currently 247 Albertans in hospital due to COVID-19 including 42 in intensive care units.

There has been 135,537 total infections in the province with the amount of active cases being 4,649.

Meanwhile, the amount of active cases on First Nations reserves, as of March 4 and according to Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is:

  • 21,836 confirmed positive COVID-19
  • 1,300 active cases
  • 993 hospitalizations
  • 20,291 recovered cases
  • 245 deaths

Case numbers per region:

  • British Columbia: 2,362
  • Alberta: 6,391
  • Saskatchewan: 5,780
  • Manitoba: 5,429
  • Ontario: 1,300
  • Quebec: 564
  • Atlantic: 10

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