The 16 week wait between first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines is the maximum anyone will have to wait according to Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
“We will start second doses as soon as our supply allows. This will likely be in later June, based on our current supply estimates,” said Hinshaw.
She said they hope to shorten the interval, but don’t expect to be able to until later in the year. Hinshaw noted that the recommended interval for the AstraZeneca vaccine has always been longer than the recommended interval for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.
“Clinical trials for AstraZeneca showed better overall protection when the interval was longer than when it was shorter. So even if we had enough supply to give second doses sooner, the shortest interval we would use for this vaccine would be 12 weeks,” said Hinshaw.
As long as the vaccine supply is there, Premier Jason Kenney says the province can still keep their promise of offering a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to any Albertan who wants it by June 30.
But with the news India will no longer be exporting AstraZeneca vaccines, and inconsistent deliveries of Moderna it’s a big if.
“Every delay and every cut in doses means fewer vaccines going out to pharmacies, clinics, and fewer doses getting into the arms of Albertans right now,” said Kenney during the April 20 update.
According to Kenney, Alberta is expecting only half of the Moderna doses previously promised and for those doses to be delayed until the end of May. About 160,000 doses of AstraZeneca are left in the province’s supply and it’s not known when shipments from India will resume.
Alberta expanded use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to include anyone aged 40 and older. According to Kenney, approximately 70,000 people have appointments for AstraZeneca booked in the next 10 days, including 27,000 people who signed up today.
“That is more uptake in one day than in all of last week so well done,” said Kenney.
Kenney said he is scheduled to receive his AstraZeneca vaccine later this week. Dr. Hinshaw was photographed getting hers this morning.
Hinshaw encouraged everyone to get whichever vaccine is available to them first and noted there has been a dramatic decline in severe outcomes for people who become ill with COVID-19 since vaccinations began at the end of December.
“The number of active cases in long term care facilities has decreased from 776 on December 30 to just 37 on [April] 18. Hospitalizations have decreased by about 93 per cent, and the number of deaths has been reduced by 94 per cent. That is the difference immunization makes,” said Hinshaw.
According to the data released by Alberta Health on April 20, there were 1,345 new cases of COVID-19 and five new deaths reported on April 19. Hospitals are currently providing care to 476 people who are ill with the virus, including 105 in intensive care units.
The provincial positivity rate is currently sitting at 10.4 per cent.
Across the Lakeland, there are three active cases in Lac La Biche County, 24 in Lac La Biche, 33 in Bonnyville, 24 in Cold lake, 19 in St. Paul, 10 in Smoky Lake, five in Two Hills, and 78 in Vermilion.