Across the Lakeland there were 95 active cases of COVID-19 in Vermilion, 38 in Bonnyville, 24 in Cold Lake,13 in Lac La Biche, one in Lac La Biche County, 11 in St. Paul, eight in Smoky Lake, and two in Two Hills as of the end of day April 14.
Province-wide, there are 1,646 active cases of COVID-19 and an additional five deaths reported today bringing the total killed by the virus to 2,034. There are 416 people in hospital including 86 in intensive care. The testing positivity rate is 9.5 per cent and the R-value across the province is 1.12, and variants of the virus account for approximately 54 per cent of active cases.
In the April 15 update, Chief Medical Officer of Health for the province Dr. Deena Hinshaw focused on encouraging people to get vaccinated when they are able to.
When asked about whether people who have received a vaccine must continue to follow all the public health measures in place, Hinshaw said it is important to continue to follow all health measures because it takes several weeks for immunity to develop after being vaccinated and with the high level of infection in the community the risk of infection and transmission is higher.
“And the final thing is that others around you don’t necessarily know whether you’re immunized or not. And so if you’re not following the rules, if you’re not masking, it can contribute to setting a new norm where others around you who may not be vaccinated may be more likely to also not follow the rules,” said Hinshaw.
Hinshaw also spoke at length in response to concerns about the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been associated with a type of blood clot referred to as ‘vaccine induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia.’
“AstraZeneca’s first dose reduces infection by 60 to 70 per cent, and reduces hospitalizations by 80 per cent, including against the B.1.1.7 variant,” said Hinshaw.
“In the United Kingdom, where about 20.2 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine had been given up to the end of March, 79 of these blood clotting events were reported in that timeframe. That means that 20,199,921 people benefited from the protection that their AstraZeneca vaccine gave them, and did not experience this rare side effect.”
Alberta has discontinued the AstraZeneca vaccine for people under the age of 55, but is still encouraging anyone over 55 to receive it. According to Hinshaw, someone over 55 is 1,5000 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than to develop the type of blood clot linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine. She noted about a quarter of people who are hospitalized with COVID-19 experience blood clots.
“Not getting vaccinated may feel like a way to protect your health by avoiding the rare risk of a blood clot following the vaccine. Waiting can actually increase your risk of getting sick, or worse. It’s also important to remember that in the general population, blood clots happen more than many people realize,” said Hinshaw.
Increased risk of blood clots is a side effect of hormonal birth control, as well as ibuprofen and many other medications.
“As soon as you were offered a vaccine, whichever it may be. Please take it to protect your health and the health of those around you,” said Hinshaw.
As part of the ongoing vaccination efforts, the AstraZeneca vaccine is now available on a walk in basis in Edmonton and Calgary for people ages 55 – 64.
Dr. Hinshaw also announced schools in Calgary have shifted back to an online learning only model for Grade 7 through Grade 12 students. Youth sports in Calgary have all been instructed to take their activities outside or take a break for two weeks.