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Thursday , 5 August 2021

Province continues expansion of COVID-19 vaccine rollout

The province of Alberta is expanding its COVID-19 vaccination program and is now on pace to distribute more than 300,000 doses per week according to a statement from the provincial government on April 12.

Bookings for Phase 2C which includes all health care professionals and their support staff opened at 8 a.m. the same day. It’s estimated this group includes roughly 240,000 health care workers across the province. Police, provincial sheriffs, and people who work in supportive living settings and other facilities at risk of large outbreaks are expected to be added to the list of eligible people in the weeks to come.

“In the race between the vaccines and variants, we are gaining ground. We will keep accelerating our rollout and timelines. We are determined to meet or surpass our commitment to offer every adult a first dose by June 30,” said Premier Jason Kenney.

Major urban centres across the province including Edmonton, Calgary, Grande Prairie, Red Deer, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat now have rapid flow clinics open for COVID-19 vaccinations.

In the Lakeland Region, AHS has vaccination clinics at the Shandro Contracting Building in Bonnyville; the SPAN gym in St. Paul; the Allied Arts and Leisure Centre and the Community Health Centre in Elk Point; George McDougall Health Centre and the Ukranian National Hall in Smoky Lake; the Agriplex in Cold Lake; and Public Health in Lac La Biche. You can book at an AHS clinic online or by calling 811.

According to the province, more than 1,300 pharmacies are now participating in the rollout of the vaccine with more expected to come on board in weeks to come.

“Our health officials are working hard to make new shipments of vaccine available to Albertans as soon as they arrive. I strongly urge Albertans to get immunized as soon as you are eligible. When it’s your turn, please sign up for your shot, show up for your appointment and follow up for your second dose,” said Health Minister Tyler Shandro.

Current vaccine options

Three vaccines are currently approved for use in Canada. All three require two doses. The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines both use mRNA technology to trigger the immune response while the AstraZeneca vaccine uses a viral vector, or modified version of a different virus. AstraZeneca is currently only available to people over the age of 55 because of concerns about increased risk of blood clots in younger people, although the province notes this is a precautionary measure and the overall risk from the vaccine is still quite low.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended delaying second doses in order to allow more people to be vaccinated with the available supply. Vaccine rationing, and increased vaccine deliveries is what will allow the province to achieve the end of June deadline for offering a first dose. When Health Canada approved the vaccines it was based on a second dose of Pfizer being given 21 days later, Moderna 28 days later, and AstraZeneca four to 12 weeks later.

As of April 11, a total of 932,258 doses of vaccine have been administered.

176,941 people have been fully immunized with two doses, meaning roughly 578,376 people in Alberta have received only their first dose.

COVID-19 case update

As of April 11, there are 390 people in hospital with 90 of those people in intensive care. According to the province’s data dashboard, 86 per cent of COVID-19 capable hospital beds are currently occupied.

“COVID capable beds are determined by a mix of beds, equipment, and staffing levels and may change over time,” reads a footnote on the data.

Locally, there are 87 active cases in Vermilion, 11 in St. Paul, 42 in Bonnyville, 17 in Cold Lake, 13 in Lac La Biche, one in Lac La Biche County, three in Smoky Lake, and two in Two Hills.

Across the province, 1,136 new cases were reported on April 11 including five new deaths. The provincial positivity rate is 9.1 per cent.

About Meredith Kerr

Meredith Kerr moved to St. Paul for a career in journalism and morning radio in 2014 expecting to stay for six months to a year. Since then, she has put down roots in the form of a husband, a mortgage, two babies, and a poorly behaved dog. She continues to work as a reporter until such time as she finishes her book and becomes fabulously wealthy from the royalties. Meredith also serves as a member at large on the St. Paul Library Board and volunteers as a Beaver leader for the 1st St. Paul Scout Group.